If a voice platform shall be successful, it needs to offer its users a large choice of voice apps. All users shall be able to customize their Alexa experience with the particular Skills they need. The platform provider cannot possibly write all the apps for the various needs of all the different types of users.
The platform needs to attract developers and provide incentives for developing apps on the platform. A platform that makes it easy to build, market and sell the apps of the developers provides such attractive incentives. Indeed, the Alexa platform attempts to do this.
But how does the platform help us build apps? What challenges does the voice platform solve for us?
This post gives an overview of the answer to these questions – and the Alexa Book is the long answer to these questions.
The Alexa Framework solves the technical challenges of voice recognition and natural language understanding. The first challenge is voice recognition: the platform detects syllables and words in the audio recording and thus transcribes the audio into text. The second challenge is natural language understanding: the platform detects the intent of the user in the previously recognized text.
The various Alexa Developer Tools help us on every step of the development of a new Alexa Skill: whether we want to configure our interaction model, develop a Skill Service, deploy, work a graphical tool or use editor and command line, Alexa offers a developer tool for that.
The AWS ecosystem provides the infrastructure for running, deploying, scaling and maintaining the voice apps. By default, Alexa Skills can make use of AWS Lambda
The Alexa Store solves the challenge of distribution and partially also the challenge of marketing. Developers can offer, present and market their app on the Alexa Store. The Alexa Store helps developers to reach potential users by offering access to its sizeable qualified customer base that is willing and able to use voice-based services and apps. So Alexa connects the supply and demand side for voice apps by bringing together the developers of voice apps and potential users. It offers the infrastructure to do this and thus positions itself as a business platform. Alexa provides the capabilities to create differentiating Skills by personalizing the Skills with the data of the end-user, whether this data originates from the Alexa platform itself or from a third-party.
Alexa helps developers monetize their apps using a freemium model. While the basic app needs to be available for free, Alexa offers various possibilities for monetization: for example via monetizing premium services, selling physical goods and services, supporting SaaS businesses by allowing them to connect existing APIs to Alexa and by offering Developer Rewards for highly engaging apps.
In my new book “Making Money with Alexa Skills – A Developer’s Guide” I describe not only how to develop, but also how to monetize Alexa Skills. Account linking is one of the possibilities for personalizing a Skill and make it unique – more practical approaches for personalizing Skills are described in the book.