Amazon could start charging subscription fee for Alexa

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Amazon could start charging a subscription fee for Alexa, according to outgoing executive Dave Limp. Limp cited the cost of training and running generative artificial intelligence models for the smart speaker’s new AI features as the reason for the potential fee.

“When you start using these (AI models) a lot, the cost to train the model, and the cost for inference of the model in the cloud, is substantial,” Limp said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Limp added that the current version of Alexa will remain free, and that a paid version would need to demonstrate more advanced capabilities and usefulness. He said that the company had not discussed what price it would charge for the subscription, adding that “the Alexa you know and love today is going to remain free” but that a future subscription-based version is “not years away.”

Generative AI models require huge amounts of computing power, with analysts estimating that OpenAI’s ChatGPT costs $700,000 a day or more to run. Amazon has bet big on AI, with the company unveiling a new, AI-powered version of Alexa alongside updated versions of its Echo Frames and Carrerra smart glasses last week. It has also just invested up to $4 billion into Anthropic, a rival to OpenAI.

Limp, Amazon’s senior VP of devices and services, announced he would step down from his role at the company after 13 years a month before the launch of the new products, while former Microsoft exec Panos Panay is expected to replace Limp.

The sources for this piece include an article in BusinessInsider.

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