Alexa’s upcoming generative AI upgrade might cost you  to  monthly

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority


  • A new report suggests Amazon might charge a monthly fee for an upgraded, generative AI-powered version of Alexa.
  • Allegedly, this monthly charge could be $5 to $10, but there could be a less powerful version that stays free.
  • Amazon considers the current Alexa unprofitable and is losing ground to Google’s and Apple’s offerings.

This year, we’ve seen digital assistants get serious AI facelifts. Google is by far the most prominent, with its Gemini platform already poised to take over for Google Assistant. Meanwhile, at WWDC24, Apple showed off what a generative AI-powered version of Siri will be able to do later this year.

So far, the major digital assistant platform left out of this conversation is Amazon’s Alexa. Alexa hasn’t had a good couple of years. Amazon considers the platform unprofitable because not enough people use it for what Amazon wants them to use it for, which is buying products on Amazon, naturally. Alexa also doesn’t have the advantage of being baked into your smartphone since the one time Amazon tried to launch a phone was a crash-and-burn failure. This has all culminated with Amazon shrinking the Alexa team and focusing less on it.

But Alexa’s not about to be left behind in the generative AI race. According to a new report from Reuters, Amazon is working hard to bring generative AI-powered Alexa to the masses. Codenamed “Banyan” — a reference to a species of sprawling ficus trees — the “new” Alexa would offer two tiers of service, with the lower tier remaining free and the top tier costing users a monthly fee.

Internally, Amazon is referring to this upgrade as “Remarkable Alexa,” although that is unlikely to be its commercial name. Allegedly, access to “Remarkable Alexa” might cost between $5 and $10 each month. There is not going to be a tie-in with Prime membership, so you won’t get access to the premium tier just by paying for Prime.

Would you pay to use Alexa if it were better than the current Alexa?

19 votes

According to three current and former Amazon employees speaking anonymously with Reuters, the company has given the Alexa team a hard deadline of August 2024 for the rollout of the “Banyan” project. This would put it nearly a year behind Google’s Gemini announcement and months behind Apple’s Siri announcement. However, if Amazon can actually roll out the new Alexa in August, it might beat Siri’s actual rollout, which likely won’t be completed until early 2025.

Regardless, Amazon’s top brass are calling this a “must-win” situation for the unprofitable Alexa. The team hopes that conversational AI will finally bring Alexa to a profit by allowing users to converse with it about products before making a purchase. However, the people speaking with Reuters admitted that people are too used to using Alexa for free, so paying a monthly fee for it — no matter how useful it might be — isn’t likely to work.

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