Amazon Wasn’t Always Sure Alexa Would Become So Popular

Much to the chagrin of those named Alexa, Alexis, Alex, or similar, Amazon’s Echo devices are getting more and more popular every year. But it wasn’t always a sure thing.

Even as she was in a room full of people familiar with Alexa and Echo smart speakers, Toni Reid, vice president of Alexa experience and Echo devices at Amazon, noted that it was not considered a given that the products (or the smart speaker industry as a whole) would take off as much as it has.

“I was here, I think three years ago, and the numbers are very different. We launched four years ago, so November 2014. And when we launched we had 13 skills, skills are the things Alexa can do, and we launched in invite mode. We did that largely because we weren’t sure,” Reid said at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif. “We had a vision. We loved it, and we didn’t know if customers would.”

This isn’t the stopping point, however. The Echo Show brought visuals to Alexa’s disembodied voice; they’ve add tons of skills, more kid-friendly features have been included, and you can even whisper to Alexa and have her whisper back.

Amazon is open to even more options, maybe even bringing a male assistant to Echo, for example, especially as help is largely provided by female voice assistants.

“I mean, anything’s possible!” Reid said.

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