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• The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon “is accelerating efforts to make Alexa more useful, from enhancing its conversational chops to offering outside developers financial incentives to make better Alexa-compatible voice applications, which Amazon calls skills.”

The goal is to give consumers the ability to do more than “turn on the lights, play music or time the pasta,” and the method is to expand the ability of Alexa developers “to charge users for purchases within skills, such as premium content from a media service, or hints or special powers in a game.”

Amazon starts out with a distinct advantage. The Journal writes that “Amazon has sold an estimated 47 million-plus devices in the Echo family since its launch in late 2014, giving it a roughly 51% share of the smart-speaker market.”

But, Amazon knows that the competition only is going to get tougher, as it battles competitors - including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Apple - “for voice-assistant supremacy.”
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