Amazon plans to charge monthly subscription for Alexa: report

Amazon Alexa app on smartphone

Alexa may be getting an upgrade and with it, a monthly subscription fee, CNBC reported Wednesday.

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Sources told the news outlet that Amazon is planning to upgrade its generative artificial intelligence with Alexa and that to offset the cost of the upgrade, it will charge a monthly fee.

It will use the Titan LLM, or large language model, as a basis for its upgrade, according to reports.

Amazon introduced Alexa in 2014 and added generative AI to the assistant last September to bring in more users, Reuters reported.

It can be used to play music, shop, control smart home functions and set up routines among its basic services, but according to Bloomberg, “those who try to use Alexa for more complicated tasks often come away frustrated.”

This is not the first time rumors of an Alexa subscription have been speculated about.

Last year, Amazon’s former senior vice president of devices and services, David Limp, told The Verge that the existing version of Alexa would be free, but an AI version would come with a price tag.

A more conversational version of the assistant will launch later this year and go up against AI-powered systems from Google and OpenAI, CNBC reported.

OpenAI recently debuted GPT-4o, a system that can use “text, voice and vision” to produce responses faster than other versions, the company said.

While ChatGPT is free for most users, it does charge $20 a month for its ChatGPT Plus, which offers more features, Wired reported.

The Alexa subscription, sources told CNBC, will not be part of Amazon Prime but will instead be offered an additional price that has not been finalized.

Amazon did not comment about the future of Alexa when asked by CNBC and Reuters.

The company also would not comment on The Verge’s inquiries but directed the outlet to previous statements, as the company has already been testing an upgraded Alexa. You can try it yourself by telling your device “Alexa, let’s chat,” and Amazon will tell you when you can preview the tool.

Amazon’s CEO, Andy Jassy, told shareholders the company was working on “an even more intelligent and capable Alexa” and mentioned its “new, AI-powered shopping assistant” Rufus.

Tech Radar and Business Insider reported in January about a subscription-based Alexa Plus that may be released next month.

Apple is also investigating using generative AI with its Siri virtual assistant, The New York Times reported. The Times speculated that Apple will update consumers on its AI work during its developers conference on June 10.

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