Amazon officially announced yesterday that Alexa will be coming to Japan later this year. That means Alexa, Echo, Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa Voice Service (AVS) are all rolling out with Japanese language support later this year. Toni Reid, Vice President Amazon Alexa, was quoted in a blog post by Amazon’s David Isbitski:
We’re excited to make [Alexa and Echo] available for our Japanese customers later this year so they can help shape Alexa as she evolves. We also look forward to helping new and existing developers create innovative Alexa experiences for Japanese customers by expanding the Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service to Japan.
Voicebot Readers First to Learn About Amazon Alexa Japan Intentions
Voicebot readers were the first to hear about these intentions when we predicted in March that Japanese would be the next language supported by Alexa and then broke the story in April that an API call end-point for alexa.amazon.co.jp/api… showed up in the developer redirect URL list. Since that time, Amazon has been quiet, but Google announced in May that it would bring Japanese support along with five other countries to market starting “this summer.” All of the other markets that Google announced for summer release are already live, but Japan remains a hold-out. Google Assistant may still beat Amazon Alexa to Japan, but it looks like it won’t be much of a lead if at all.
Amazon Has A Lot to Gain from Launching Alexa in Japan
Amazon has a lot to gain by entering Japan now. It is a close second in online sales to Rakuten according to 2016 market share estimates and U.S. data show Amazon Echo owners spend 10% more after purchasing an Alexa-enabled device. Japan is also the top country globally where consumers have shifted away from retail shopping in favor of online purchases according to PwC’s Total Retail 2017 report.
Developers are Eagerly Anticipating Alexa’s Japan Arrival
Our assessment is that Japanese developers are anxious for Alexa’s arrival as the .jp/api post is one of Voicebot’s top 10 most read stories of the year. Japan is the 11th most populous nation and the IMF reports it has the third largest global GDP. These factors make it a key prize in the battle of the voice assistants. After trailing Amazon’s Alexa in market entry in the U.S., UK and Germany, Google Home was first launch in Australia, Canada and France. It is not clear what Amazon’s intentions are in those latter three countries, but the company certainly wants to be first or nearly first in Japan. Japanese developers won’t have to wait much longer to build Alexa skills. They can learn more here.