Thousands of Amazon Alexa Skills Live in India
Amazon formally launched its Alexa-powered Echo line of smart speakers on October 4, 2017. That same day, Amazon’s Amit Jotwani, a Senior Evangelist on the Alexa team, wrote in a blog post:
More than 10,000 skills will be available when the service launches to customers in India this month…Developers around the world can extend their experiences to more customers in this new marketplace and earn perks along the way.
How can Amazon bring 10,000 skills live in India so quickly? This is especially interesting given that even in the UK fewer than that number are live today despite the device being available for more than a year. It comes down to the nearly 23,000 Alexa skills alive in the U.S. A number of U.S. developers saw their skills automatically published to the India skill store over the past few days.
Bringing Alexa Skills to India
Some developers had already submitted using the standard method. Steven Arkonovich, a professor at Reed College and independent Alexa developer said in an online interview:
I just submitted the normal way after making some minimal changes (e.g.adjusting intents that weren’t available in India) and went through the normal process. They were approved almost overnight…I have published Big Sky and I’m Driving.
By contrast, other developers simply had their skills published for the India audience automatically. Charles LaPress, CTO and co-founder of Bev, is an Alexa developer in South Carolina. He had several skills published in English for the U.S. market. One of those skills is a great fit for India as well, Angel Podcast by author, angel investor and entrepreneur Jason Calacanis.
However, he also had two skills designed for his local community that were were automatically published in India according to his developer console. Mr. LaPress commented:
I published [Angel Podcast] in the US first. After launching it, we published it in the UK and India within a week. On or about October 19/20, Amazon migrated our other custom skills to India. [Angel Podcast] is designed to be useful and relevant to customers in the US, UK and India. The other applications are not relevant to anyone outside of Greenville, SC unless they use them as inspiration to create a similar local application for where the live.
Bringing More Value to Alexa Users in India
The mass migration of U.S.-based Alexa skills has a lot of potential benefit even if a few of them are not geographically relevant. When Indian Amazon Echo users plug in their devices, there will be many high quality Alexa skills that have already proven successful in the U.S. These will complement the locally developed skills by Indian companies such as Ola, Times of India, NDTV, AajTak, Tarla Dalal, and Zomato.
The bigger issue will be Alexa skill discovery. Amazon.in does not have an Alexa Skill store today. That is likely to be available very soon, but you need apps published before you can put up a skill store. Amazon seems to be closing that gap very quickly. Amazon is also discounting Echo products again this week. So, if you are in India, you can buy an Amazon Echo today as a discount and have access to thousands of Alexa skills from the start. Let us know what you think about the Alexa experience at either @bretkinsella or @voicebotai on Twitter. Thanks.