Amazon’s Personal Assistant Just Keeps Getting Busier

Amazon Echo
Amazon's Echo listens for a command.
Jason Cipriani

Amazon Alexa, the virtual assistant that can usually be found being ordered around in people’s homes, now has 10,000 apps, or “skills” in Amazon parlance.

The milestone is a major one for Alexa, the smart software in Amazon Echo connected speakers—and increasingly in other devices too. Since hitting the market in June 2015, the voice assistant has gained strong momentum with users and companies hoping to make their services available to a wider audience, spawning a number of challengers including Google (GOOG) Home.

Dominos (DPZ) has an Alexa skill for ordering pizza; Uber (UBER) has one for rides; Capital One (COF) has one to review account balances. As of this week Alexa can also query Healthtap’s Dr. AI about symptoms you may have or even a real doctor on your behalf, to assess what ails you.

A new “Existential Crisis Unanswered Questions” skill will let you ask Alexis such things as “What’s the meaning of life?” or “What is an unanswerable question?” As described in Amazon’s Alexa catalog, where the app is available for download: “Ask Alexa for an existential crisis, and prepare to have your mind blown when she asks you a question you won’t be able to answer!”

You get the drift: There a lot of specialized tasks, some serious, some not so, that Alexa can now do because Amazon has invited third-party developers to write the code for it.

The 10,000-skill benchmark was disclosed Thursday in an Amazon blog, which went on to claim the number of available skills has tripled from September. And as recently as January, the company had touted having 8,000 skills.

Amazon wants to show that Alexa has momentum, and there is some, no doubt. A more pertinent question, as CNET points out, may be how many people actually use these skills?

But that is unclear. The blog doesn’t detail anything about about actual Alexa usage.

For more on Alexa and Echo, watch:

When it comes to metrics about its businesses, Amazon is a master of selective disclosure. How many Echo connected speakers has it sold? Amazon won’t say, but market research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimates that the number to be about 8.2 million units in the U.S.. How many people pay $99 annually for Amazon Prime in return for perks like free shipping, video, and music? That’s another state secret. but earlier this month a Morgan Stanley analyst estimated that Prime has 65 million customers worldwide.

Perhaps Amazon wants to tout how well Alexa is doing, as it looks likely the software will compete more against rivals like Apple (AAPL) Siri, Google Assistant, and (GOOGL), and Microsoft (MSFT) Cortana going forward.

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