Here’s one statistic that proves Amazon is serious about its Alexa digital assistant.
The retail giant revealed Wednesday that 5,000 Amazon employees work specifically on the company’s voice-activated helper that powers its family of web-connected speakers like the Echo and Echo Dot, according to tech publication GeekWire.
Amazon (AMZN) disclosed the number in Seattle during a media event during which it announced new products like a premium version of the Echo speaker, the Echo Plus, and an updated version of its Fire TV set-top box.
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Although Amazon’s Alexa team is just a small fraction of the company’s overall workforce of nearly 350,000 people, the number of people working on Alexa is more than several consumer companies combined. As CNBC notes, fitness tracker specialist Fitbit and GoPro employ 1,700 and 1,500 workers respectively.
Amazon, like other big tech companies including Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), and Apple (AAPL), sees voice-activated digital assistants as the next big breakthrough in human interaction with computers. It’s the next step after the rise of the touchscreen with mobile devices.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in May, 2016 that its Alexa team employed 1,000 workers, which signals that Amazon, over the past year, has hired or transferred legions of employees to work on Alexa. Now that’s serious.