More Than 1,000 Alexa Skill Blueprints Have Been Launched as Publicly Available Skills and Alexa Developer Ecosystem Grows to Hundreds of Thousands
Voicebot has learned through industry sources that since Amazon enabled Alexa Skill Blueprints to be published as publicly available skills, over 25% of all new skills in the U.S. store have been Blueprint based. Blueprints were officially launched on February 13, 2019. Between the launch date and May 26th, over 4,000 new Alexa skills were added to the skill store which means over 1,000 come from Blueprints. Voicebot analysis suggests that about 9.7 new Blueprint-based skills were certified daily during that period.
To put this in perspective, there were just over 4,200 Google Actions in total developed by third parties for U.S. users as of January 2019. That means in about 100 days, everyday users of Alexa devices have created about 24% the total number of all Google Actions at the beginning of the year. Blueprints are proving to be a fast method to generate a lot of content for Alexa users quickly.
Alexa Skill Blueprints are code-free templates that non-developers can use to launch Alexa skills. Owners of Alexa-enabled devices take some simple steps to select from among 55 pre-built templates such as Custom Q&A, Quiz, Houseguest, and Personal Trainer. They simply fill out a form that populates the skill with content and the onboarding flow sets the user up as a certified Alexa developer. The video explainer below walks through the process. After the forms are completed, the creator can determine whether they would like their Blueprint skill to remain private or go through certification to be published in the skill store and used by other consumers.
Millions of Blueprints in Private Use
The new data about Blueprints-that-became-published-skills came to light shortly after Geekwire published an interview with Amazon’s Steve Rabuchin, a vice president for Alexa. Geekwire reported that:
“Since the [Blueprints] program debuted, customers have created millions of custom skills and interacted with them millions of times, Amazon said, declining to give specific figures.”
That is millions of Alexa skill Blueprints enabled (more than two million), but not all of those are certified for public use as there are only about 62,000 Alexa skills available in the U.S. today and less than 100,000 worldwide. Voicebot was able to confirm that the vast majority of those Blueprint skills are private and the creators intend them only for family use. A small percentage have run through Alexa certification to become publicly available skills and that is the number that recently surpassed 1,000 published. However, there is clear interest in Blueprints among consumers even if predominantly for private use. Consider that if just two million Alexa Skill Blueprint skills have been created, that works out to over 5,000 per day since launch based on Rabuchin’s comments.
Is it a bad thing that fewer than 1-in-2,000 Alexa skill Blueprints have been submitted for certification and public use? Probably not. There is a clear focus by Amazon on getting more high-quality Alexa skills into the skill store and few consumers without software development or design backgrounds are likely to meet that standard. However, some small percentage may have that creative spark to deliver something other Alexa users will find valuable.
New Alexa Skill Publishing Remains Steady in 2019, But is Down from 2018
You might think that the ease of creating new Alexa skills using Blueprints would accelerate the growth of skills. Voicebot analysis says that it has not and the new capability may be masking a decline in new skills being published by traditional developers. Voicebot analysis showed that an average of 39 new Alexa skills were added each day between January 1, 2019, and the option to certify skills created using Blueprints on February 13th. Since then, the average has remained at 39 new Alexa skills per day in the U.S.
Granted, without the Blueprint publishing option, new Alexa skills created through the traditional method has fallen to 29 per day, well below the 85 per day recorded for all of 2018. Does this reflect waning developer interest, Alexa skill saturation, or something else? It is not clear. However, there are currently 211 skills about Cat Facts and 61 related to Farts. So, we might have the basics covered right now and the hunt for new skill ideas hopefully can offer a stronger contribution to society.
Hundreds of Thousands of Alexa Skill Developers
Amazon’s Rabuchin also mentioned in the Geekwire interview that there are now “hundreds of thousands of developers in our ecosystem building skills.” He distinguished that from the millions of people that could also contribute to the Alexa ecosystem using tools such as Blueprints. The growth of the Alexa skill developer community, in particular, is worth noting. Whereas Apple and Google have millions of iOS and Android developers respectively, Amazon needed to build a community dedicated to Alexa from scratch in order to advance the platform and generate content for consumers. It was previously unclear whether a few thousand developers were launching multiple Alexa skills or if there were many more developers supporting the platform. Apparently, it is the latter.
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