Amazon Alexa Coming to South Korea and UAE
Amazon is starting a preview test of Alexa in South Korea, according to an email sent from Amazon and obtained by Voicebot. The invitation sent out to some in South Korea comes as Amazon is expanding the availability of Alexa in different forms around the world, including a similar message sent out in the United Arab Emirates.
Language or Localizing
The kind of Alexa rollout coming to South Korea could take a few different forms. It may be purely a localization of information and access through Alexa Voice Service (AVS), like the one announced this week in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru. AVS allows manufacturers to build Alexa-enabled devices in the Alexa Built-in program and gives the voice assistant the ability to find local news and supply answers to questions about local customs, events, and culture but uses an existing Alexa Skills store for third-party voice apps. Alexa may also release a fully South Korean version, speaking Korean and laying a foundation for a South Korean Alexa Skill Store with local developers. That might build on Amazon’s partnership with SK Telecom to funnel Amazon products through the SK Telecom-owned 11Street e-commerce market. The email to users in South Korea is short on details, but the fact that it is written in English and doesn’t discuss Korean being the language the voice assistant would converse in suggests it might look like the recent AVS expansions in Latin America and Europe.
“We are looking for people that w2ould be interested in exploring a range of Alexa features and provide us feedback,” the email states. “We will use your inputs and interactions with Alexa to help improve the experience we offer customers in South Korea.”
The other reason to think this won’t be a Korean-language expansion is that an identical email with the country name switched out was sent to people in the UAE. Like South Korea, Alexa-enabled devices arent’ supported in the UAE, with any Echo devices tied to the U.S. or UK market. If the UAE and South Korean emails are presaging an AVS expansion, that would mark major growth for the service. In March, Amazon brought AVS to Poland and Sweden and Colombia and the Netherlands at the end of 2020. Amazon can roll AVS out faster than setting up a whole new language for Alexa and give users the ability to plumb existing third-party Alexa skills, but, at least in Korea, Amazon still has eyes on speaking the native language at some point, thanks to a different partnership with SK Telecom from last year.