Get ready to bid adieu to celebrity voices on Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices.
The company is discontinuing the sale and support of special celebrity voice add-ons for Alexa, including the voice of Samuel L. Jackson, Melissa McCarthy and Shaquille O’Neal.
Amazon first introduced Jackson’s voice for Alexa devices back in 2019, and subsequently added voice packs for McCarthy and O’Neal in 2021.
“After three years, we’re winding down celebrity voices,” said an Amazon spokesperson in a statement given to The Verge. “Customers will be able to continue using these voices for a limited time, and can contact our customer service team for a refund.”
Jackson’s voice add-on will be available to use until June 2023 by saying “Hey Samuel.” Shaq and McCarthy’s voice add-ons will remain available until September 2023 by saying “Hey Shaq,” or “Hey Melissa.”
While a concrete reason for ending celebrity voice support is still unknown, it’s worth noting that Amazon laid off several of its employees from the ‘devices and services’ organization last year, which is directly tied to Alexa and Alexa-enabled Amazon devices.
And while the celebrity voice add-ons were a way for the company to make revenue, their performance and overall revenue generation might have been underwhelming, and it could be that the company decided to deploy those tools and resources elsewhere.
Amazon also announced earlier this year that it plans to reboot Alexa with ChatGPT-like features, with its aim to make Alexa more intelligent and responsive, with users feeling as though the device is “thinking” instead of simply retrieving information from a database. It might be that the sunsetting of celebrity voice add-ons is a part of a broader reboot with AI features for Alexa devices.
Via: The Verge