Does Amazon Alexa still offer celebrity voices?

Amazon discontinued celebrity voices in 2023

Unfortunately, Amazon nixed this program last year. Samuel L Jackson was removed in April one year ago, while the other two voices were pulled a few months later. Amazon did allow users to keep using the celebrity voices for a few months after they were pulled from the online marketplace, but as of April 2024, none of the three are still available to use.

Does Amazon Alexa still offer celebrity voices? 5Does Amazon Alexa still offer celebrity voices? 5
Image: Amazon

So why did Amazon remove this feature? After all, it seemed like a relatively harmless thing to keep around. We can’t know for sure, but it’s not a surprise that Alexa and Echo devices have struggled to turn a profit quite like Amazon had hoped, and the operating loss for these devices has been in the millions since their inception.

Amazon has announced that they’ll be stopping monthly payouts for Alexa skills developers, too, which follows the same thought process; why keep paying out money for a sector of devices that hasn’t generated much profit in nearly 10 years? Amazon is no stranger to allowing a new product to burn cash while it ramps up to market saturation, but the smart assistant device market has struggled to find its niche besides music playback and setting timers.

The celebrity voices likely would have been a drain on the Echo platform’s revenue if Amazon had to pay licensing or royalty fees to these celebrities. Since they weren’t subscription-based, that small one-time upfront payment probably wasn’t enough to help the program generate any profit or break even, and it likely wasn’t moving additional Echo units.

Does Amazon Alexa still offer celebrity voices? 6Does Amazon Alexa still offer celebrity voices? 6
Image: Amazon

There’s still talk of Amazon reworking Alexa with the rise of AI and ChatGPT, and the headache of trying to convert Shaq’s speech into an entirely new language model and constantly changing AI patterns would have been an enormous headache. That doesn’t even touch on circling back to royalty payments or licensing, and there’s a chance any of these celebrities would have objected to having their voice act as a front for a custom AI chatbot model, even if they were originally okay with replacing Alexa’s voice.

So, for better or worse, these celebrity voices have gone the way of the dodo and there’s no more coming. Amazon may revive the program in the future, but if you’re looking to change up Alexa’s speech you can still adjust her accent to sound like several others, including British, Indian, and Australian, among others.

Is it that big of a deal? Probably not, but we always hate to see the fun pet projects die.

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