It is a little behind the actual calendar that Amazon is officially celebrating, this Thursday, November 16 (the day before Black Friday !), Alexa’s five years in France. Arriving in France on June 13, 2018, the web giant’s virtual assistant has since continued to interfere in our lives. Firstly through Amazon devices (like the Echo Do t or Echo Show ). Through operator boxes (apart from those of Bouygues Telecom), too. But above all through hundreds of connected objects (speakers, household appliances, bulbs, switches, etc.) that Alexa allows you to program and control by voice.
What conclusions can we draw from these five years and what developments should we expect from Alexa? 20 Minute s takes stock with Clément Monjou, Senior Manager Alexa International.
95,000 years of music in France
“We started in 2018 with three products for controlling lights and thermostats. Today, there are around ten to control everything,” enthuses Clément Monjou. He who participated in the development of Amazon’s virtual assistant does not seem to come back from it. More than a billion products from all brands are now connected to Alexa around the world.
For France, Amazon is not releasing any figures, other than that its user base jumped by 20% last year, information that is impossible to verify. The main uses of Alexa would be entertainment ( music, audio, video), smart home and home organization. The French have notably launched via Alexa the listening of the equivalent of 95,000 years of music in 2023… compared to 70,000 years in 2022!
“Alexa also triggered more than 140 million alarms last year and, a little scoop, we see that users have the habit of postponing their alarm clock up to three times on average! », laughs Clément Monjou. “Alexa, turn off the alarm!” “.
Thanks to Alexa, our compatriots also have access to 140,000 cooking recipes. At the moment, “yoghurt cakes, pancakes and gluten-free products are popular,” notes the manager . Winter is coming, we need to warm our hearts. » But we have to admit that the dad jokes, which may have contributed to the success of Alexa at its launch, are a little behind.
Routines are popular
Building on her knowledge, the zealous Amazon assistant capitalizes more and more on routines (the sequences of actions that she can carry out). “There are 614 million actions generated by routines in France, it’s massive! », notes Clément Monjou. Successively triggering an alarm clock, starting the radio or an info briefing with the latest news from 20 Minutes , opening your roller shutters and turning on the light, for example, is one of Alexa’s skills. These, however, remain limited and limited. But during its September 2023 keynote , Amazon Devices promised to go further.
Generative AI as an evolution
“The new version of Alexa will gradually arrive in the United States and then will be extended to more territories. We will improve it with generative AI. Our customers want a safe, fluid experience, anchored in reality, within the framework of the home,” announces Clément Monjou. Thus, a more conversational-based journey, as with ChatGPT, will be made possible.
Concretely, new, previously unseen interactions with Alexa will emerge. Like: “Alexa, turn on the lights and read me my 20 Minutes briefing ”. Or: “Alexa, turn the lights on and off every day at 9 a.m. when I leave.” And the assistant should learn a little more as it gets to know its user, with known elements such as their favorite artists, the football team whose results they follow, their favorite source of information, their podcasts… Enough to open up the field of new possibilities.
“Compared to everything we see on AI, the technological challenge is quite unique in the world,” confesses Senior Manager Alexa International. “And the subject has never been as important as today,” adds Clément Monjout.
New devices… first in the USA
When will this new version arrive in France? Amazon says nothing and claims to be working on its adaptation to local culture, recalling that before the arrival of Alexa in our region five years ago, 10,000 users had received an Echo device in beta testing…
By then, new devices could be gradually introduced to the market. Currently launched in the United States, a soundbar (Fire TV Soundbar), tablets for children (Fire HD Kids Tablets), TV sticks (Fire TV and Fire TV 4K Max, a home automation hub (Echo Hub) , connected glasses (Echo Frames) and even a Wifi 7 hub (eero Max 7) remind us that Amazon is giving itself the means to follow the path laid out. On the other hand, it is confirmed: no, in France, Alexa will not change of voice!