A fascinating new report claims that companies like Google and Amazon are losing tens of billions of dollars on their voice assistant devices, despite widespread adoption, because the plan to sell them under cost and then make up the difference in money made from interactions isn't working, because their customers refuse to use the devices for anything that makes these companies money. https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2022/11/amazon-alexa-is-a-colossal-failure-on-pace-to-lose-10-billion-this-year/#p3
@jasonpettus they don't work very well. I tried the Cortana version. Did not work for shit. No real AI to it. Or anyway it had shit AI. Also they're famously intrusive.
@jasonpettus Not surprised. And Alexa is getting more intrusive, almost begging me to use shopping features when I ask for weather or a sports score. Pretty close to ditching mine.
"What's the score of the Bucks game?"
"The Milwaukee Bucks beat the Portland Trailblazers 100-93. Reminder that you can..."
[smash, destroy, burn]
@brianvastag I told Alexa to stop trying to sell me things, and it did stop. I no longer get any of those reminders.
@jasonpettus Doesn't surprise me, mine is so lonely I caught it talking to the TV several times, it makes a good alarm clock or radio, but trust it with shopping, no way
@jasonpettus mine is used to check the weather and control my smart home devices. I doubt Amazon makes money off of any of it.
@groo79 You and everyone else, apparently! Amazon in particular seemed to be hoping that people would order stuff for delivery all the time, without bothering to see any photos, read any reviews, etc.
@jasonpettus seems like they should have asked a normal person how it would get used... "Ask a normal person" could solve so many issues nowadays.
Parto of the issue is that the promise of a 'conversational assistant' is not #NLP but largely, the #reasoning that we expect humans to do with the #NLP input. But, most investments are made on #NLP research and some #CommonSense multiple-choice questions that are completely detached from real usecases.
We need to rid ourselves of #AGI and engage in research iteration over real problems. E.g, assistants for education.
@jasonpettus I must admit,, my favourite thing about Alexa is asking her to make fart sounds for different animals. Eventually she offers the option of "1 million farts" in a row, which obviously is barrels of laughs, although we never get through the 1 million because the hilarity wears off well before that. At our house, Alexa is the last thing I'd defer to for spending money - it's for laughs & playing music - that's it
@jasonpettus I ask mine to tell me video game secrets and what the weather is. I can't believe they were actually banking on people using them for shopping or additional subscription services.
@jasonpettus I can't even trust Amazon to ship me the product I ordered, why would I trust their voice assistant to order the correct product in the first place?
@jasonpettus it makes sense, like clearly Alexa was designed to encourage me to make purchases through it. However I was just never comfortable enough with the voice UI to trust it with actual financial transactions.
I was wondering about this. Audio takes up a lot of space data-wise. This has to be incredibly expensive.
@jasonpettus I mean, what were they thinking? Take a device with a 15% chance of getting wrong what I tell it to add to my grocery list, and put it in charge of buying stuff for me? Don't think so.
@jasonpettus thanks for explaining. I heard that on business news and I thought , how could a basic user interface to that has been around for years be something so demanding and a failed attempt at strategy to prompt mass layoffs.
@jasonpettus I would pay $12/year for a Google Assistant that won't track me and just keeps getting smarter and better at doing things for me. Maybe the assistant ought to have been the product? Am I the only one?
@jasonpettus Sounds about right. I have four of the Echo devices around the house, and we use them all the time. Never once have I bought anything through them.
@jasonpettus Somebody in Amazon knew this, told the higher ups, and were promptly ignored.
They really believe they can shape human behavior and are always amazed when they fail.
@jasonpettus they just kept sending them to me with asking. I kept them just in case anyone ever found a quick way to flash the firmware.
@jasonpettus I think these companies were banking on the smart home industry but people aren’t ready for it yet due to cost and technical complexity. It isn’t easy for the average person to adopt and it’s extremely expensive to get a professional to install everything. So just people just use them as radios they don’t need to touch to play music.
ah, they'll make a lot of money when they start blackmailing people based on what they overhear
@jasonpettus that explains why alexa refuses to play the music I fucking paid for unless I pay amazon's fucking subscription service.
And that's why we're dropping alexa and moving out of amazon music's orbit.
I think Amazon should pay *you* to let them put a device in your house that is listening 24/7.
I wish I trusted these people. It does sound fun.
@jasonpettus drive hay about Siri?
I use it as a small utility on my phone for certain tasks: reminders, alarms, skipping songs…
@jasonpettus I secret love mine. Have one in every room. Grab for setting background music, listening to audiobooks while cleaning, getting the news, helping my kids spell words when we’re not in the room, getting random facts, jokes, kids stories, etc etc
@jasonpettus I call BS. Those things are listening to everything and I'm sure they're selling us plenty because they heard us talk about it. Just because I won't enable shopping on it doesn't mean they're not selling me stuff. Heck, she tells me I need ink in my printer and offers to add to my cart. Miss me with the tiny violins for Amazon.
@jasonpettus the only good use of Alexa is to make shopping lists like
Alexa, please add the planet Venus to the shopping list
Planet Venus added to the shopping list
Alexa please add a bag of dicks to the shopping list
Alexa please add more fucks to the shopping list
Etc etc etc
@jasonpettus Good read. Makes lots of sense – why on earth would you buy anything via voice only, without being able to inspect the goods?
@jasonpettus I am very amused by reports that big companies voice assistant devices are losing money. My aged parents use theirs solely to ask things they can’t remember any more, like “How far is it from Wagga to Griffith?” Or useless trivia “How tall is King Charles III?”
@jasonpettus unfortunately that also means it's more profitable to sell our personal data. In which case, may as well confuse that with the weird questions from kids and requests for animal fart noises I've seen mentioned in these replies
@jasonpettus I’m also really fascinated by this. Amazon has a physical device with a speaker and mic in millions of homes and they can’t figure out how to monetize it!? All the people commenting “no one was ever going to buy things with it” as of that was a foregone conclusion are (IMO) wrong. Failure of imagination is exactly the right way to put it. If Amazon had executed this better (or if Apple had been first ), things may look very different right now in this space.
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