It has been more than a decade since Jeff Bezos excitedly sketched out his vision for Alexa on a whiteboard at Amazon’s headquarters. His voice assistant would help do all manner of tasks, such as shop online, control gadgets, or even read kids a bedtime story.
But the Amazon founder’s grand vision of a new computing platform controlled by voice has fallen short. As hype in the tech world turns feverishly to generative AI as the “next big thing,” the moment has caused many to ask hard questions of the previous “next big thing”—the much-lauded voice assistants from Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and others.
A “grow grow grow” culture described by one former Amazon Alexa marketing executive has now shifted to a more intense focus on how the device can help the e-commerce giant make money.