Amazon Alexa skills in the U.S. passed 15,000 for the first time on June 30, 2017. Voicebot was first to report when Alexa skills came in at 7,000 on January 3rd. Skill counts more than doubled in the first six months of 2017 to close June at 15,069. There are thousands of skills in the UK and Germany as well. However, some of them are unique to those countries and some are duplicates of skills already in the US Alexa skill store. As a result, it is challenging to get an exact globally unique Alexa skill count. The number is surely nearing 20,000 if not already past it.
Flash Briefings Make Up 20% of US Skills
Flash Briefings for Alexa are simple information skills that are among the easiest to develop. Examples include The Wall Street Journal, Digiday, NPR and Washington Post. They were a significant portion of the early skill store counts but did not grow as quickly as custom Alexa skills in the second quarter of 2017. On April 1st, Flash Briefings were 24% of US skill count. That fell to 23% at the beginning of May, 22% on June 1st and now is only 20% to start July.
Google Assistant Trails with Only 378 Voice Apps
Google has taken to calling its skill equivalents Voice Apps instead of the original term Actions, whereas Microsoft uses the term Skills for Cortana. Google’s Voice App count on June 30th was 378, up 24% in June. Microsoft trailed even further behind at 65 and that represented only 12% growth at a time when you would expect more rapid expansion.
There have been a lot of recent pronouncements about how Google Assistant may be superior to Amazon Alexa in some ways. That is almost surely true when it comes to information search where Google excels and Alexa is lacking. However, Google Assistant / Home is far more limited in terms of tasks users can perform on the platform. Many Alexa skills are not very sophisticated and are lightly used to say the least. However, the same goes for Google voice apps. The fact is the more skills that are out there, the greater chance a user can find something useful for them on the platform. Small numbers means even fewer voice apps of value.
Amazon Skill Count Grew 37 Times Faster Than Google
Even more noteworthy than the 15k mark is that Amazon’s new skill introduction accelerated once again. For the previous three months skill count growth had been under 10%, but this accelerated in June to 23%. That is roughly equivalent to Google’s 24% voice app monthly growth rate, but reflects an enormous disparity in new applications for users.
In June, Amazon Alexa users were introduced to 2,776 new skills while Google Assistant users only saw 74 additions and Microsoft Cortana just 7. The Alexa skill growth was 37 times more than Google Assistant.
What About Google and Microsoft Dev Communities
When your base gets larger it is hard to maintain high growth rates, but Amazon has done it. Google and Microsoft both have large and well established developer communities. The thought has been these communities would come out in force and start building on the new voice platforms. It doesn’t appear to be happening yet. The developers of Google Assistant Voice Apps and Microsoft Cortana skills are largely developers that have already built for Amazon Alexa. Neither Google nor Microsoft seems to have effectively activated their developer communities and generated excitement about voice. That could come later, but today it appears the are living off of developer enthusiasm about Alexa. Too little of that Alexa enthusiasm is spilling over to drive their voice application counts today and they are falling further behind.