Amazon is launching a series of free, interactive sessions for developers, dubbed Alexa Dev Days, meant as a way to learn “to create voice experiences and hear the latest on UI design and industry trends,” according an Amazon Developer Community posting.
The traveling event series, which is sponsored by Intel, starts next week with an opening session in Seattle, with later visits planned for Chicago, Dallas, Boston, L.A., San Francisco, NYC, Atlanta, Philly and other U.S. locations. Sessions will also be held abroad in a handful of European locations, including London, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Dublin and more.
The series arrives just after Voicebot.ai reported that the total number of skills available of Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant reached 15,069 last month, more than double the number of skills reportedly available at the beginning of 2017.
The "Dev Days" series is just the latest of Amazon’s efforts to boost Alexa’s fortunes by expanding the ecosystem supporting its virtual assistant, efforts that include the partnership between Amazon and Intel announced last December.
Just a few weeks ago, the e-commerce giant rolled out a video skills API. Going back to late last year, Amazon introduced a skills marketplace, which at that time had about 3,200 skills available, a number that quintupled in a matter of months.
In addition, Amazon announced an Alexa accelerator program for start-ups working with conversation commerce technologies. Early this year Amazon also announced it would make Alexa microphone and voice processing technology available to some manufacturers via an invitation-only program.
Not that Alexa needs the help. Amazon’s virtual assistant already has at least 70% market share, according to an eMarketer study. The massive number of Alexa skills reported by Voicebot.ai dwarfs the relatively paltry 378 Google Assistant voice apps, and the even lower number of Microsoft Cortana skills — 65.
One of the things that makes this lead so surprising is that Amazon, being relatively new to the device and app game, has never had much of a developer community to speak of, while Google and Microsoft in particular have massive developer communities to draw on to create new apps for their virtual assistant. Amazon's competitors' lower skills numbers, as reported by Voicebot ai, suggest that they haven't been able to mobilize and motivate their developers to get behind these assistant solutions.
Meanwhile, Amazon, which has raced to capture leads in various retail and digital markets since its inception, is doing everything it can to build up and entice its developers to do more in support of Alexa.