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Why Amazon is putting Alexa everywhere

Matt Kapko | May 11, 2017
The head of Amazon’s Alexa business explains why the company is investing heavily in voice services for manufacturers of various device types.

Amazon says that opening Alexa up to third-party developers and hardware manufacturers is the best approach to deliver innovation, according to Rabuchin. “Let us do what we do best,” he said. “We open it up and watch the innovation that occurs in collaboration” with other companies.

Amazon also released an Alexa Skills Kit almost two years ago so developers could create new skills and increase the capabilities of Alexa. “We have tens of thousands of developers building on the platform,” Rabuchin said.

 

Tough questions and perceptions over privacy

Despite the success and growing interest in Alexa products and services, Amazon still faces scrutiny over the potential privacy implications of having an always-on, always-listening device in peoples’ homes, cars and other personal spaces.

“Security and privacy for us are the most important tenets for this product line,” Rabuchin said. “If we aren’t perfect and the best we can be in those areas, we have no business.”

Rabuchin described how Alexa operates and the controls that are in place for users to manage data captured by Amazon. Every utterance that is recorded by Alexa is in control of the customer, he said. “What you say to Alexa, you can go in and delete those, you can delete them all or you can delete them sentence by sentence,” he said. “You’re in complete control of the data that’s captured by us, but it’s also in your Alexa app so you can see exactly what’s recorded.”

Rabuchin was also asked if there’s a way Amazon could prove that it meets privacy standards through third-party testing or other means. “We don’t test it externally and I don’t think we’ve had incidents where there’s been an issue,” he said. “We just take it so seriously at the highest level of our company, all the way down.”

 

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