Amazon is reportedly shifting around both personnel and money, in addition to hiring more engineers, in a bid to keep its virtual, cloud-connected personal assistant, Alexa, ahead of the competition. There’s no question that Alexa currently leads the smart assistant market by a wide margin. In fact, recent results place it in first place in that market sphere by as much as a 50 percent larger share over Google Assistant – with the current smart-assisted speaker market shared by Amazon at 75 percent and Google at 25 percent. However, with so many other companies looking to try their hand at AI-powered innovations, and with Google making improvements of their own that could easily change. Moreover, many companies are already well-versed with Google’s software and development environments and are choosing to release new devices featuring Assistant rather than Alexa, so it makes some sense that Amazon would be aiming to step up its game and maintain the lead.
As to what, precisely, Amazon is doing to confront the issue, sources close to the company say that the online retail giant is adding hundreds of engineers – with the goal of increasing Alexa engineers by 50 percent from the current 3,000 employees, by investing heavily in hiring, with a priority on hiring those who can work on Alexa. Moreover, it has internally moved a prominent technology executive to take the place at the head of the project – namely Tom Taylor, who has held the position for the past three months, as of this writing, according to Taylor’s LinkedIn Page. Taylor’s job as SVP over Amazon Alexa will be to scale the project further, enabling more growth and innovation. Part of that push has undoubtedly already been seen with last week’s announcement of a combined effort between Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s own voice assistant – Cortana.
Amazon, in the meantime, has plenty of reasons to worry. Aside from the many companies opting to include Google Assistant rather than Alexa in their smart speakers, Google has made huge amounts of headway in the functionality of its Assistant. Recent tests have concluded that while both virtual assistants understand around 95 percent of the questions asked of them, Google’s Assistant is slightly smarter. More to the point, Google is gaining rapidly on that front, moving up from 77 percent in another test conducted just a few months prior to that, while Alexa’s numbers only came up a single percent over that same time frame. That’s in addition to, and probably at least partially a result of, the fact that Google Assistant has become part of the Android ecosystem itself across millions of devices and available to millions of users. Although some device makers have chosen to include both services, Google has a serious advantage in terms of testing and implementation thanks to its digital helper being built right into the world’s most popular operating system.