Does Amazon Super Bowl Ad Suggest Alexa is Getting New Voices?

Alexa Lost Her Voice

There are active LinkenIn and Twitter discussion threads about whether a new Super Bowl ad from Amazon is intended to foreshadow the addition of new voice options for Alexa. Since launch, Alexa has had the same voice and only one voice per country. She sounds different in Australia, England, the U.S., Germany and so on. However, once you set your home country, you have only had one pleasant sounding Alexa voice for all of your interactions.

Noted voice app developer Marcellus Pelcher pointed out that when the person tells Jeff Bezos, “We have the replacements ready,” she uses the plural form of replacement. The set-up is that Alexa has lost her voice presumably due to a cold or laryngitis and a replacement voice is needed. Could multiple voices be in Alexa’s future?

More Vocal Variety is Certainly Within Amazon’s Reach

Alexa rival Google Assistant has both male and female voices for defaults and offers two male and two female voice options for developers that launch Assistant apps. Those voices are all localized to the country-language and accent similar to Alexa, but there is more variety. Alexa may have only one voice today, but the Amazon Poly synthetic speech engine offers 52 voices in 25 localized languages/accents. So, Amazon has a broad set of options that are already available today.

Some other commenters on Mr. Pelcher’s post suggested that Alexa may bring out a celebrity voice or voices to for a couple of weeks to add some fun to the Alexa interactions. That is a clever idea but seems a bit risky from a brand perspective as so many celebrities seem to be getting into trouble these days. Well, maybe that’s always true.

Transitioning From Echo Device Awareness to Alexa Feature Awareness

Amazon used the Super Bowl the past two years to raise awareness about Echo and Alexa and the strategy is widely regarded as successful. It is interesting that in previous years, the effort was focused on introducing the device and this year that may transition to introducing people to a new, fun feature. If that shift occurs, it’s because device awareness efforts have already proven successful. The sales numbers in Q4 2017 would seem to justify that supposition. What do you think the “replacements” is all about? Let me know on Twitter if you have an idea.

January 2018 Voice App Totals Per Voice Assistant

CIRP Says 18 Million Smart Speakers Sold in Q4 2017 Bringing Installed Base to 45 Million




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