Amazon plans to charge you a monthly fee to use Alexa in future

As Alexa gets smarter, Amazon has an eye on putting it behind a paywall

Amazon Alexa conversational
(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon could charge you a monthly subscription fee to use Alexa in future.

As the voice assistant becomes more intelligent thanks to generative AI, the company claims that it also becomes more costly to maintain and develop, and so a paid service is inevitable.

"Yes, we absolutely think that," said departing senior vice president of devices and services, Dave Limp, to Bloomberg.

"When you start using these a lot, the cost to train the model, and the cost for inference of the model in the cloud, is substantial."

However, you shouldn't expect to have to fork out too soon. Limp explained that there is a lot of work to do before Alexa becomes "superhuman" enough to be worth a monthly fee.

"Before we would start charging customers for this — and I believe we will — it has to be remarkable. It has to prove the utility that you're coming to expect from the 'superhuman' assistant."

There's also good news for those who won't want to pay, the existing Alexa experience won't be ditched entirely. It will remain free to use, with only the enhanced version being moved behind a paywall.

"We’ll talk to customers and learn from them, what they believe the value is. The Alexa that you know and love today is going to remain free," he added.

Limp – who is leaving Amazon soon to become CEO of Amazon founder's space company, Blue Origin – was host of the recent Amazon Devices event in Virginia and debuted Alexa's forthcoming generative AI skills for the first time.

He showed (after a couple of initial hiccups) that the new Alexa will be conversational and learn from each user. Eventually, you will be able to ask the assistant to do things just as you would a human.

You can watch the demo and the entire Amazon Devices launch event below.

Alexa isn't the only Amazon service set for additional subscription charges. It was also revealed recently that it plans to introduce advertising to its current Prime Video streaming service and charge an extra $2.99 per month (on top of Prime membership) for an ad-free tier.

In addition, Amazon has added an additional cost for same-day deliveries under £20. This was previously free for Amazon Prime members.

Rik Henderson
News Editor

Rik is T3’s news editor, which means he looks after the news team and the up-to-the-minute coverage of all the hottest gadgets and products you’ll definitely want to read about. And, with more than 35 years of experience in tech and entertainment journalism, including editing and writing for numerous websites, magazines, and newspapers, he’s always got an eye on the next big thing.

Rik also has extensive knowledge of AV, TV streaming and smart home kit, plus just about everything to do with games since the late 80s. Prior to T3, he spent 13 years at Pocket-lint heading up its news team, and was a TV producer and presenter on such shows as Channel 4's GamesMaster, plus Sky's Games World, Game Over, and Virtual World of Sport.