Despite being the main focus of the greatest layoffs in the company’s history, Amazon hasn’t given up on its Alexa voice assistant, hardware executive Dave Limp said on Friday.
As part of a larger effort to reduce spending in the face of a deteriorating economic outlook and sluggish sales growth, CEO Andy Jassy of Amazon started firing employees in its corporate personnel last year. One of the divisions impacted was the company’s devices and services division, which is in charge of the creation of products like Alexa, Echo smart speakers, and Kindle e-readers.
Jassy said this week that the company is looking to cut more than 18,000 jobs, mostly in stores and HR. However, he said the number was fluid and subject to change.
In addition to the layoffs, Amazon has also frozen new hiring for corporate employees, shelving some of its more experimental projects, such as telemedicine services and video calling devices for children.
“In that uncertainty, we looked at projects that probably represented risk-reward trade-offs for those projects, but not enough of what they could offer our clients,” Limp said. rice field. “Some of it was in Alexa and some was in other parts of my organization.”
Still, despite Amazon taking steps to be more disciplined about costs amid a “very uncertain economy,” Limp said it is “fully committed to the Alexa unit.”.
Limp said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “It’s a big project.”
Since its launch in 2014, Amazon has invested heavily in Alexa and hired top talent to advance the technology. It was largely directed by Alexa pioneer Jeff Bezos, who firmly believed that voice was the key to how people interacted with computers. At one point, Amazon had 5,000 employees working on Alexa and Echo.
Amazon has been selling devices like the Echo at or near full price. Instead, Amazon sees it as a way to draw customers into the broader Amazon ecosystem to purchase anything from Amazon.com or other properties.
Limp dismissed the idea that Amazon might need to raise prices significantly because it’s looking more closely at costs. Prices for some items used in Amazon’s devices, such as memory and displays, have increased, and these could be passed on to consumers, he said. But in general, Amazon’s hardware business model remains the same, he said.
“We try to sell our products at near breakeven and sometimes even more,” Limp says. “Then, when customers use them, they are said to be shopping through Alexa. Amazon uses that to give customers a great shopping experience. I would like to.”