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Amazon’s Alexa increases its skills by 50 per cent in less than six months

Tim Maytom

Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant that powers, among other things, its popular Echo smart speaker, has grown its third-party-created skillset from 10,000 to 15,000 in under six months, as developers race to get their software on what has become an increasingly popular platform.

The figures come from Voicebot, which analysed skills available in the US, and shows a massive acceleration in the volume of third-party software available through Alexa. At the start of the year, there were around 7,000 skills available on the platform, according to Voicebot, and Amazon’s official figures suggest that in September 2016, there were only around 3,500.

‘Flash Briefings’, which provide audio updates on news, weather and other topics, are the most popular skills, making up 20 per cent of the US skills store. With both a clear use case and a simple development process, publishers have flocked to this format, with The Wall Street Journal, NPR and The Washington Post all launching Alexa Skills that saw significant downloads.

Alexa Skills are vastly outpacing Google assistant Voice Apps, of which there are currently 378, and Microsoft Cortana Skills, of which there are only 65. Amazon is currently the leader in voice-powered devices, and is expected to control 70 per cent of the market this year.

The announcement that Apple will be entering the market with the HomePod is unlikely to disrupt that domination, as Apple has focused on marketing the HomePod as a speaker first and smart assistant second. Apple is yet to confirm whether or not third-party developers will be able to create HomePod-compatible apps.

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