Amazon has announced their plan to expand the Alexa Skills Set (ASK) and Alexa Voice Service (AVS) to India. This will allow developers to build new Alexa “skills” and integrate India specific functionality in Alexa powered smart speakers. This new announcement comes few days after the Amazon officially launched its Alexa powered Echo speakers in India. Now, this new announcement only serves to underline Amazon’s commitment to bringing Alexa to the Indian market.
So what exactly would this mean for Indian users? Well, for starters, it would mean voice support for thousands of apps and services which are popular in India. Support for Ola and Uber is confirmed, meaning that users will now be able to book their cabs by asking Alexa to do it for them. Food delivery and restaurant discovery services such as Zomato, Faasos and Freshmenu will also be supported, and users will be able to book restaurant tables and order food with simple voice commands.
In fact, it would seem like the support for Indian services will be extremely extensive including news outlets (NDTV, Times of India), Hotel Booking (Goibibo), Entertainment and Sports (ESPNcricinfo, Hungama), Music Streaming (Saavn and Amazon’s own Prime Music in the future). Also, just like in the US, Alexa will enable home automation as well, with partnerships with Philips and SYSKA.
And Amazon is not stopping here either. Over the next few months, a flurry of Alexa powered smart speakers are due to for launch in India, from companies such as Harman, Onkyo, boAt, Anker, Riva and even Indian electronics manufacturer BPL.
India is a tricky market to navigate, especially when it comes to consumer and personal electronics. Value for money and functionality plays a huge role in influencing people’s purchasing decisions. Amazon seems to have grasped this concept very well, and are working hard to make Alexa and the Echo speakers a very appealing prospect for Indian users. The ability to call a cab, order food, listen to music, turn on/off your lights, listen to the news and much more via simple voice commands could be game-changing for an average Indian consumer.
Of course, Amazon stands to gain a lot if Alexa and Echo speaker adoption takes off in India. Amazon currently controls over 70% of the smart speaker market in the US, and they could potentially translate this success to India as well. Considering the sheer size of the Indian market by volume of users, that could mean massive revenues. It could also help Alexa win the Virtual Digital Assistant wars, as just like any smartphone OS, a VDA lives and dies by the size of its user base.