Amazon Alexa Skill Counts Rise Rapidly in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Japan, Canada, and Australia
- The number of Amazon Alexa skills in the U.S. more than doubled in 2018 while U.K. saw 233% growth and Germany 152%
- Skill growth rate accelerated in the second half of 2018 in all three countries, particularly in November and December
- Australia and Canada both have over 20,000 Alexa skills about a year after launch in the countries thanks to a flood of skills originally launched in the U.S.
Amazon Alexa skills in the U.S. totaled 25,784 at the beginning of 2018 and sit at 56,750 as 2019 begins. That reflects 120% growth in one year which isn’t quite as impressive at the 266% growth between 2017-2018 but confirms continued developer interest in the platform. Alexa skill growth in the U.K. was even faster in 2018, rising 233% to 29,910 while Germany’s skill count rose 152% to 7,869.
The U.S., U.K., and German Alexa skill stores added 85, 57, and 13 new Alexa skills per day respectively in 2018. New skill growth accelerated toward the end of the year with the countries adding 181, 84, and 37 new Alexa skills per day in November and December. That drove 24%, 21%, and 41% skill growth respectively in the last two months of the year. Japan and France, starting from a much smaller base, showed growth of 45% and 53% in the same period.
Global Alexa Skill Proliferation is Language Dependent
The January 2019 analysis also includes Alexa skill counts for Canada and Australia for the first time. These skill stores debut on our list with 22,873 and 22,398 Alexa skills respectively. Amazon Echos first started selling in Canada about 14 months ago and Australia has had the devices for less than one year. So, how do Alexa users in both of these countries have nearly as many Alexa skills as the U.K. and triple the number as Germany, both of which have had the devices for twice as long? It’s all about the language.
Amazon makes it easy for developers to publish in other languages and it can be a default for English language Alexa skills to publish in other English-language countries automatically. That means new Alexa skills made originally in the U.S. or U.K. are often immediately available in Australia, Canada, and India. It is not to say that these countries don’t have their own developer ecosystems. Instead, new skills developed in these countries are likely moving at a rate similar to France and Japan while also getting all of the new U.S. and U.K. skills.
Does Alexa Skill Growth Matter?
All of this information is interesting, but a refrain I hear more frequently today is whether the number of Alexa skills matters. Some people go so far as to say that the number of low-quality Alexa skills actually undermines the platform because users stumble into poor experiences and form a negative impression while the best skills are too hard to find among the detritus. This strikes me as logical reasoning on the surface that turns out to be empirically wrong. Voice app discovery is a hard problem. Everyday users are not likely finding bad Alexa skills at a high rate because they are not finding any skills at a high rate. The skills with the most user growth are those that are promoted by Amazon and those tend to be the better-designed user experiences.
What Alexa skill growth does indicate is developer commitment to the platform and choice for consumers. We saw in the PC and mobile eras that developer commitment was critical to expanding the value of those platforms. We also saw a lot of low-quality apps. Of the 2 million iOS or Android apps, how many do you think are of very high quality? The volume of app publishing increases the chances of a breakout hit that provides strong value to users. It also increases the number of developers familiar with the platform that today may be putting out a 2-star skill and tomorrow using those learnings to create a 5-star viral blockbuster.
So, Alexa skill growth matters to the extent that it increases the probability of launching a high-value voice app and it serves as a conduit for training developers on the platform. These are two outcomes that will accrue benefits to Amazon over the long-run.
Many thanks to Alexis Hue, Jan König, Ryan Matthews, Peter Nann, Dan Whaley, and Simon Zhang for contributing to this report.