Seven agencies were added last week to the Amazon Alexa Skill Builders and Tools Page. Amazon originally published the page on February 2nd and it included 20 agencies, four “SDKs & Frameworks” and three analytics providers. The SDKs list has grown to six and analytics added one in the latest update. The seven new agencies include:
Building an Ecosystem
Amazon committed to building a developer ecosystem shortly after it launched Echo in 2014. A key pillar of Amazon’s strategy is to facilitate Alexa skill development so users have myriad options for productivity, entertainment and information. On this front the company has been successful. There are over 10k skills available to users in the U.S. along with 4k in the UK and just under 1k in Germany. The growth from just 13 skills in the fall of 2015 to over 10k today was driven not by Amazon, but by a robust ecosystem of independent developers.
However, Amazon also recognized that many consumer brands and media companies would seek assistance in developing Alexa skills to deliver a brand experience consistent with their other digital properties. This led Amazon to set out early to recruit marketing and tech agencies to support the platform. Twenty made the cut to be listed by Amazon as accomplished skill developers earlier this year and seven more were added. The more Alexa skills development expertise is available in the market, the more Alexa skills are likely to be produced.
New Agencies Add Experience to the Alexa Developer Community
FreshDigitalGroup has developer more than 20 Alexa skills including restaurant explorer and more than 15 for sports fans of professional football and basketball teams. IPG Media Lab developed the Miller Time Alexa skill which Voicebot profiled in March. Spoken Layer recently teamed up with iHeartMedia to transform several high profile print publications to audio format for Amazon Alexa. Accenture built a Node.js framework for building Alexa skills in 2016 and posted it on GitHub.
What About Independent Developers?
The Skill Builders and Tools page is a great resource for companies looking for partners to help build, maintain and improve an Amazon Alexa presence. However, there remains a gap. Many of the most popular skills and indeed the majority of all skills were developed by independent developers and not agencies. A number of these developers are available to build Alexa skills on a contract basis and they often have very deep experience working with the platform. At the same time, there are many businesses that may want Alexa skills, but cannot afford the cost of a top flight marketing agency.
There is a real opportunity for Amazon to provide a forum or webpage for companies to find skilled independent Alexa developers. That would be a positive step in supporting independent developers.