Developers of Alexa skills may soon be able to make consistent money from their creations, as Amazon is now allowing them to offer subscription-based content to the users of their skills, according to a TechCrunch report.
Sony Pictures Television is the first skill developer getting a chance to do that, by offering users of its Jeopardy! game skill who are not Amazon Prime members to subscribe to a premium Double Jeopardy feature for $1.99 per month, the report stated.
Meanwhile, Amazon Prime members who already use the Jeopardy! skill can now get free access to six additional Double Jeopardy! clues each weekday.
As with so many of Amazon's Alexa developments over the last year, this move is more about building a bigger, stronger, more self-sustaining ecosystem around Alexa than anything else. Last year, Amazon began a start-up accelerator program around Alexa, this summer the company created an Alexa-centered developer learning series, and the e-commerce giant has made other moves as well, like releasing core technology to developers.
This move is a way of helping to keep the ecosystem of developers financially healthy — or at least healthier than they would be without this opportunity — and motivating them to create better Alexa skills and games that will prove more valuable to users.
It also brings the business model around Alexa skills a little closer to a mobile commerce type of model, where developers can charge extra for certain in-app products or features — in this case a subscription to additional content. Amazon has given other compensation over the last year to encourage Alexa skills development, though. As TechCrunch pointed out, Amazon now doles out payments to Alexa skill developers whose skills are especially popular and, as a result, this seems like a fairly obvious next step for continuing to grow the Alexa economy.
Moreover, Amazon doesn’t make many moves these days without its 90 million or so Prime members in mind, and giving them free access to this premium content provides yet another perk to their memberships. Also, as more Alexa skills developers are allowed to put this kind of subscription model into place, access to free premium skill content will become yet another motivator for non-Prime members to (finally) sign up for the program.