Amazon Is Giving Away Promo Credits to Make Alexa More Powerful

March 15, 2017, 7:07 PM UTC

Amazon plans to pay coders so they can improve the company’s Alexa digital assistant.

Developers who build so-called skills for Alexa can now apply to receive $100 in promotional credits that they can use for the retail giant’s cloud computing service, Amazon Web Services, the company said Wednesday.

In order to build an Alexa skill—like the ability for Alexa to answer a particular question or perform a digital task—coders need to use AWS as their computing environment, where they can create the necessary software. If the developers’ skills are popular, Amazon said it would also give them an extra $100 each month to help subsidize their rising AWS bills.

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Amazon (AMZN) currently lets developers use a free version of AWS to get them started building Alexa skills. But the free version is limited. Once coders exceed the allotted amount of computing resources, they must pay a monthly fee based on how many resources their skills consume.

The company’s new AWS promotion is essentially a way to convince developers to build more robust apps that can consume more computing resources than coders may have originally planned.

An Alexa skill—like the one food delivery service GrubHub released Wednesday that lets people order meals by asking Alexa—could potentially consume a lot of AWS computing if people routinely use it. Amazon needs more of these types of skills for Alexa if it wants to make it a massive hit with consumers, and the company seems willing to subsidize costs for the time being.

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In February, Amazon said Alexa now has 10,000 skills since the intelligent digital assistant debuted in 2015.

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