Amazon Will Eliminate an Entertaining Service This Summer — But You Won't Get a Refund Unless You Request It The company hasn't disclosed why it's cutting the feature, but it could indicate a larger issue.
Customers will lose access to the voices of Samuel L. Jackson, Shaquille O'Neal and Melissa McCarthy starting on June 7, The Verge reported. And they won't be refunded for their purchases — which cost $0.99 at launch before rising to $4.99 — unless they contact customer service.
Amazon introduced Jackson's voice in 2019; Shaq's and McCarthy's followed in 2021. The voices use the company's neural text-to-speech model to come up with responses and are somewhat limited in their capacity: They can't help with shopping lists, reminders or skills.
Although Amazon hasn't disclosed why it's slashing the service, it could signal bigger trouble for the Alexa division, which saw operating losses surpass $5 billion in recent years, per The Wall Street Journal.
Still, Amazon seems optimistic about Alexa's potential — especially as it pertains to AI.
Earlier this month, Rohit Prasad, the company's senior vice president and head scientist for Alexa, told CNBC that "Alexa has been and is at the forefront of AI for a long time," adding that the company strives to make Alexa more conversational and intelligent.