If voice assistants really are the next big user interface, then Amazon is off to fantastic start – by the numbers, at least. As this chart from Statista shows, Amazon’s Alexa assistant now has more than 10,000 “skills” (i.e., third-party voice-enabled applications). That’s double the amount that was available just last quarter.
To be clear: That developers are interested in Alexa is good news for Amazon, and Alexa itself seems to be well ahead in the home compared to rivals like Google Assistant, the AI found in the Google Home speaker that competes directly with the Alexa-centric Amazon Echo.
But, as always, quantity isn’t quality. Calling up an Uber or ordering a pizza just by yelling across the room is convenient enough, but for every useful skill, there are 500 CorkOrnaments.com deal alerts or “Flat Earth Facts.”
This is the trade-off of every open platform, but it points to a simple, non-flat-Earth fact: It’s still early days for voice assistants. Taking that into account, it’s no surprise that most Amazon Echo owners only use Alexa in the simplest ways possible.