Amazon announced earlier this week that Alexa Voice Service is now available in the UK and Germany. This likely represents a 50% increase in total addressable market for device makers who want to add AVS to their hardware.
Expansion of AVS was not likely a trivial task. Unlike Google, Amazon did not have a decade of international voice samples. When the Echo rolled out to Germany and the UK last year, Amazon was likely operating with enough confidence in the ASR component to expand to these different geographies. It likely collected millions of samples to develop its own ASR. For UK English, there was probably only some fine tuning of the NLU engine to accommodate for British phrases. For German, the NLU engine building was likely a completely fresh project.
What’s emerging here is a pattern for language service rollout — at least from Amazon.
First, develop ASR / NLU capabilities in one language. Then, launch a standalone device. Launch extensibility (as Alexa Skills). Launch API for other hardware. Rollout language as a combined ASR/NLU service (Lex).
If we follow this trajectory, the next step will be UK English and German being offered through Amazon Lex. Australia, Japan, France, Italy, Canada and India are likely the next targets for this rollout, at least based on Amazon Prime being a driver.