Voicebot analysis of Amazon data show that 62% of Alexa skills have no ratings at all and 5% only have a single-star rating. Keep in mind that there is no “zero star” option. A one-star rating is a zero rating. One way to look at this is that 12,591 Alexa skills available to U.S. users are largely invisible with little or no users and 973 are simply despised by whatever users have come across them.
That leaves 6,733 that have a rating above one-star. Of that, just 302 show a five-star rating with at least three reviews. There are many other skills with five-star ratings and only one or two reviews, but let’s assume most of those are close acquaintances of the skill developers.
Most skills do not land precisely on a star. The ratings system goes to one decimal place so you are more likely to see 3.2 or a 4.4 rating, but the 302 skills listed above have received only 5-star reviews. This is difficult to achieve when you only need one 3 or 4-star review to knock you below the 5-star threshold. The 5-star rated skill with the most reviews today is Sleep Sounds: Thunderstorm Sounds by Voice Apps LLC. It has 132 reviews. Granted, one unhappy customer could easily knock it down to 4.x star ignominy.
The Question of Skill Quality
This data doesn’t mean that Alexa’s high skill counts don’t matter. Several Alexa critics will try to convince you that 20,000 Alexa skills is inconsequential because of the low quality or lightly used skills. But, the high skill count can also point to a much larger pool of high quality Alexa skills than other platforms have to draw from. Adam Marchick from VoiceLabs drove this point home in a January Voicebot interview:
You would rather have 493 weather apps and let consumers decide which ones they love and let the ecosystem grow instead of artificially constraining the system and forcing everyone to use one. That would undermine innovation.
In fact, the high voice application count may matter even more when you consider that it is hard to predict which will be winners. The Apple and Android app stores discovered this and had a big focus on driving up third third party app counts. While users settled into using just a few apps, the large pool of choices was perceived as a big benefit.
There Are Some Skills With Many Ratings Despite Friction
Voicebot collaborated with Quentin Delaoutre, a leading Alexa skill developer in France, in this analysis (check out our earlier Voicebot Podcast interview with Quentin here). Despite the large number of lightly rated skills, we also found a significant number of skills with a large number of ratings. There are currently four skills with over 1,000 user reviews and there are 93 with at least 100 reviews. The skills with the most reviews and star-ratings today include:
- Sleep and Relaxation Sounds (Music & Audio): 2,980 reviews, 4.6 average rating
- TP-Link KASA (Smart Home): 1,668 reviews, 2.5 average rating
- Sirius XM (Music & Audio): 1,236 reviews, 3.0 average rating
- Amazing Word Master Game (Games, Trivia): 1,123 reviews; 3.6 average rating
It is impressive that these Alexa skills have so many ratings because so few users even know you can rate skills or ever interact with their Alexa app. Once Alexa allowed users to enable skills by voice as opposed to actively selecting them through the Alexa app, the incentive to open the app and look at skill entries declined. The fact that you cannot rate an Alexa skill by voice introduces friction and invariably will lead to lower numbers of reviews as we see from the data. If you are never in the Alexa app, then you are not likely to even think to rate a skill.
Reviews Don’t Necessarily Correlate Closely with Active Users
You can look at Alexa skills with higher numbers of reviews and know that they have some audience, but there doesn’t appear to be a precise correlation. I am told that one leading news organization has over 500,000 monthly active users on Alexa. However, none of their three Alexa skills has more than 130 reviews. Certainly this is a larger active user base than many of the 73 Alexa skills with more user reviews.
There is still a lot to learn about Alexa skill popularity, but we are staring to see some metrics that offer insight. Here is some additional analysis about skill popularity by category.
Also, a great independent resource for learning more about Alexa skills is the Alexa Skills Store.