In October, Amazon announced the Alexa Skills Challenge: Kids. The mission of the contest was to incentivize developers to create engaging voice first experiences for Alexa specifically for children of all ages. The deadline to submit a skill was January 11 and last week Amazon announced the 20 finalists who were chosen “based on their creativity and originality, a great voice-first user experience, and the skill’s potential impact and ability to educate, entertain, and engage.”
For the next round, a team of judges will review each skill to determine who will the $25,000 first prize. Amazon has stated that it may throw in a “bonus prize” to another skill that did not win first place. The judges will also consider reviews and feedback from a test group of kids and their parents.
Money as Motivation
According to Amazon, the contest received hundreds of submissions and it’s easy to see why with $250,000 of prize money at stake. Each of the 20 finalists received $5,000 for making it to the final round. It’s no coincidence that the announcement of the contest came just a month after Amazon announced Alexa skills aimed towards children were now eligible for certification. By throwing $250,000 at developers, Amazon was able to get hundreds of new skills live for children in just a few short months. It also ensures that these skills are of higher quality which means higher engagement from users. In addition to be judged on how entertaining the skill is, each submission will also be judged on “customer engagement data” (e.g., minutes of usage, new and returning customers, customer ratings, and more).
A quarter of a million dollars is nothing to Amazon. By offering a cash prize, Amazon was able to get hundreds of new, high-quality skills to engage young Alexa users and bolster their kid-centric skill library. So far, the contest seems to be a success and almost guarantees that there will be more Alexa Skill Challenges to come.