• Amazon is celebrating this Thursday, November 16, 2023, the eve of Black Friday, the fifth anniversary of its virtual assistant Alexa.
  • With a 20% increase in the number of users last year according to the web giant, Alexa is filling up on uses around entertainment, smart home and home organization.
  • In the coming months, its evolution based on generative AI will allow it to evolve and offer new interactions based on conversational.

It is with a little delay on the real calendar that Amazon officially celebrates, this Thursday, November 16 (the day before Black Friday!), the five years of Alexa in France. Arriving in France on June 13, 2018, the web giant's virtual assistant has since continued to intrude into our lives. First through Amazon's devices (like the Echo Dot or Echo Show). Through operators' boxes (apart from those of Bouygues Telecom), too. But above all, through hundreds of connected objects (speakers, household appliances, light bulbs, switches, etc.) that Alexa allows you to program and control by voice.

What conclusions can we draw from these five years and what changes should we expect from Alexa? 20 Minutetakes stock of the situation with Clément Monjou, Senior Manager Alexa International.

95,000 years of music in France

"We started in 2018 with three products for controlling lights and thermostats. Today, there are about ten of them to control everything," enthuses Clément Monjou. He participated in the development of Amazon's virtual assistant and can't believe it. More than a billion products of all brands are now connected to Alexa worldwide.

For France, Amazon does not drop any figures, except that its user base would have jumped by 20% last year, information impossible to verify. The main uses made of Alexa would be entertainment (music, audio, video), smart home and home organization. In particular, the French are said to have launched the listening of the equivalent of 95,000 years of music via Alexa in 2023... compared to 70,000 years in 2022!

"Alexa also triggered more than 140 million alarm clocks last year and, a little scoop, we see that users are used to postponing their alarm clock up to three times on average!" laughs Clément Monjou. "Alexa, put off the alarm clock!"

Thanks to Alexa, our compatriots also have access to 140,000 recipes. At the moment, "yoghurt cakes, pancakes and gluten-free products are all the rage," says the manager. Winter is coming, we need to warm our hearts. But we have to admit that the jokes to Dad, which may have contributed to Alexa's success when it was launched, are a little behind.

Routines are popular

On the strength of her achievements, the zealous Amazon assistant is increasingly capitalizing on routines (the sequences of actions she can perform). "There are 614 million actions generated by routines in France, it's massive!" notes Clément Monjou. Successively triggering an alarm clock, turning on the radio or an information briefing with the news under the 20-minute sifter, opening your roller shutters and turning on the light, for example, are part of Alexa's skills. However, these remain limited and limited. But during its September 2023 keynote, Amazon Devices promised to go further.

Generative AI as Evolution

"The new version of Alexa will gradually arrive in the United States and will be extended to more territories. We're going to improve it with generative AI. Our customers want a safe, fluid experience, anchored in reality, in the context of the home," says Clément Monjou. Thus, a more conversational-based journey, as with ChatGPT, will be made possible.

In concrete terms, new interactions with Alexa that have never been seen before will emerge. Like, "Alexa, turn on the lights and read me my 20-minute briefing." Or, "Alexa, turn the lights on and off every day at 9 a.m. when I leave." And the assistant should learn a little more as it gets to know its user, with well-known elements such as their favorite artists, the football team whose results they follow, their favorite source of information, their podcasts... This opens up a new field of possibilities.

"Compared to everything we see on AI, the technological challenge is quite unique in the world," confesses Senior Manager Alexa International. "And the subject has never been as important as it is today," adds Clément Monjout.

New devices... first in the USA

When will this new version arrive in France? Amazon says nothing and says it is working to adapt it to the local culture, recalling that before the arrival of Alexa in our region five years ago, 10,000 users had received an Echo device in beta testing...

Until then, new devices could be gradually introduced to the market. For the time being launched in the United States, a soundbar (Fire TV Soundbar), tablets for children (Fire HD Kids Tablets), TV sticks (Fire TV and Fire TV 4K Max), a home automation hub (Echo Hub), connected glasses (Echo Frames) and even a Wifi 7 hub (eero Max 7) remind us that Amazon is giving itself the means to follow the path mapped out. On the other hand, it is confirmed: no, in France, Alexa will not change voice!

  • Tech
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  • Amazon
  • Alexa
  • Connected objects
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)