Amazon Web Services will offer $100 in promotional credit and up to an additional $100/month to cover any extra cloud computing and storage costs incurred by third-party developers whose Alexa skills exceed the limits of the existing AWS Free Tier.
The company says the move will make it “free for developers to build and host most Alexa skills.”
Amazon’s new program, announced this morning, is the latest collaboration between the Alexa and AWS teams inside the company, designed to further boost the development of new capabilities for the voice-enabled virtual assistant. Alexa powers devices including Amazon’s own Echo smart speakers.
Skills are the equivalent of apps, allowing Alexa to deliver additional online services, features and information. Amazon announced last month that more than 10,000 Alexa skills have been developed by outside developers. The new AWS program is an indication that usage of Alexa is starting to exceed the limits of the existing AWS Free Tier. Here is Amazon’s description of the new program.
Many Alexa skill developers currently take advantage of the AWS Free Tier, which offers one million AWS Lambda requests and up to 750 hours of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) compute time per month at no charge. However, if developers exceed the AWS Free Tier limits, they may incur AWS usage fees each month.
Now, developers with a published Alexa skill can apply to receive a $100 AWS promotional credit and can earn an additional $100 per month in AWS promotional credits if they incur AWS usage charges for their skill – making it free for developers to build and host most Alexa skills.
Strong sales of the Echo lineup have helped Amazon jumped out to an early lead in the home over rival virtual assistants from companies including Microsoft, Google and Apple. In addition, Alexa is available in a growing number of third-party hardware devices.