Amazon is promising a free Echo Dot unit to the first 2,500 developers in the US to publish a Skill for its Alexa AI platform in the month of June. Specifically, the Skills have to be vetted by Amazon, and once the fully approved Skills hit the market, developers have to comply with Amazon's rules until the end of the promotional period on June 30th at 11:59 pm Pacific Time in order to get their Echo Dot. If all of those conditions are fulfilled, Amazon will ship out an Echo Dot to the developer in question, so long as they are one of the first 2,500 to put out a Skill. There is a form that has to be filled out in order to let Amazon know that you're interested, which can be found through the source link.
Although the full list of requirements is listed by Amazon on their announcement page, some of the information worth knowing is that this particular offer can't be combined with other offers, the skill has to be submitted through the developer portal, and Amazon says that it will take up to four weeks after the promotion period has ended before Echo Dot's are received, which means that it will likely be almost the end of July by the time they show up on developer's doorsteps. The Amazon Echo Dot, for the uninitiated, is essentially a scaled-down Amazon Echo with a smaller range. It only works in one room, but otherwise works much like its larger, more expensive sibling. Just like the full-size Echo, you get access to Alexa in all its glory, the unique microphone setup means that it can hear you while playing music or when the room is noisy, and it can connect to external devices to play music, podcasts, and other audio media. The Echo Dot normally retails for $49.99, but developers who hop on board can net one for free, giving them a live test bed for their Skills.
This latest effort is one of a long line of developer advocacy initiatives that Amazon has taken part in since the launch of Alexa. The move comes just after Amazon essentially ripped out the ads from most of the Alexa experience, forcing skill developers to seek alternative monetization, a need that was mostly fulfilled through VoiceLabs' Sponsored Messages platform. Amazon has also tried to bring Amazon Web Services developers on board in the past, by giving them a taste of Alexa's power. It is certainly not wrong to say that the continued success of Amazon's Alexa AI and its ecosystem are almost entirely dependent on third-party developers, so it's no surprise to see the e-commerce giant bending over backwards to help out developers.