Premium Skills are being tested
Until today, you never had to pay to add premium skills to Alexa. A skill is like an app on your phone. Starting today, you can add premium “skills” to your account. The first such skill is the popular game show JEOPARDY! by Voicebot.ai.
The free skill allows you to play the Jeopardy! game on any Alexa enabled device like Amazon Echo Show or Amazon Echo Dot. What you get is a game that plays just like Jeopardy! on TV. You get an answer and you have to guess the question. In the free app you pay $0 and you get up to 6 questions a day. If you truly love this game (it is very cool on an Echo Show or an Echo Spot as the question shows up in white letters and blue background just like the TV show), you can pay $1.99 per month and get 12 questions a day.
Using this method, Alexa now has a monetization model for developers to get paid back for their efforts. This could lead to more developers making skills for Alexa. Prior to this method, Amazon paid for popular categories of skills. They paid the developer when the skill is approved.
Amazon is testing this in the US only.
Do I Have to Pay?
The payment model isn’t as bad as it sounds. You only have to pay for the extra questions if you’re not an Amazon Prime member, and if you own any kind of Amazon Echo device, there’s a good chance you’re already a Prime member anyway. So join Amazon Prime if you own an Echo device and your set, the benefits of joining Prime goes beyond free premium apps and you should see the benefits,
Pay to say
Will this new monetization method work? This is debatable because so many people will be Prime Members.
One possible solution is that Amazon may maintain its existing rewards program for Alexa skills (they pay developers for submitting “eligible skills that customers engage with most.”) The catch is that the system appears to be highly subjective, with the main criterion for qualification being described as: “If your Alexa skill qualifies, you will receive an email from the Alexa team by the middle of the following month.” A “developer program” needs to entice development activity and it seems from all the “skills” Alexa is offering today, their “current development program” is working. This only matters to you because you need the skills to expand your system’s capabilities.
I don’t believe it will entice developers and you don’t have to Pay.
I believe that developers will submit skills under the existing program and that Amazon will need to keep it in place for skills that do not involve selling hardware where the company developing the hardware is paid when the product sells. Pure software skills like games and infrastructure apps that expand system capability will be a cost for Amazon to bear to make Alexa the AI system of choice.
The most important thought and point for you is this: Join Amazon Prime and you do not have to pay for Premium Skills and most other Alexa services today or in the future.
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