Amazon opens up more in-app sales for Alexa skills
- Amazon now offers another way for marketers to earn money from apps developed for the e-commerce giant's Alexa digital assistant. Voice-powered apps, called "Alexa skills," can now charge extra fees for more features like additional content, hints in a trivia game or other freemium consumables, the company announced in a blog post.
- Sony Pictures Television will soon debut a skill for its trivia game "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" that lets players buy one-time-use lifelines if they get stuck on a question, according to the blog post. Other examples of money-making consumable content include additional sessions with a hypnotherapist or extra points to keep a voice game going.
- Amazon piloted consumable sales in a private beta test after debuting in-skill purchases last year, TechCrunch reported. Amazon will host a webinar on "Building Alexa Skills with Consumables" on October 16 for people seeking more information on how to incorporate money-making features into their skills.
By allowing the sale of consumables in Alexa apps, Amazon is providing an additional source of revenue for marketers that offer premium voice-enabled content to customers. The pricing models for voice-enabled apps are in a nascent stage — similar to the early development of the mobile app economy more than 10 years ago when Apple introduced the iPhone — allowing for marketers to explore unique money-making opportunities for their content.
Developers are getting on board with Alexa, as the number of apps in the Alexa skill store has ballooned to more than 50,000 this month, Amazon reported in a separate post, from 40,000 as recently as early May. The number of Alexa-compatible devices has surged 5 times to 20,000 this month from 4,000 at the end of last year, while the number of brands using Alexa has nearly tripled to 3,500 from 1,200 during the period. This points to the growing adoption of voice-powered devices among consumers, as well as among marketers as a powerful channel to connect with key audiences.
In-app revenue is especially significant in the gaming market, such as the hit videogame Fortnite that is forecast to generate half a billion dollars from in-app payments by April 2019, Apptopia predicts. The global mobile gaming market is forecast to grow from $56 billion in revenue last year to $106.4 billion by 2021, as mobile's share of the video game market rises to 59% from 46% during the period, per a recent report by Newzoo and Arm. Games on voice platforms aren't even measured yet, but they likely will become more significant as consumer adoption grows and developers create more sophisticated and useful skills.