Now, small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) can use the hub to find development teams capable of creating skills. Alternatively, they can also find the tools they need to develop their own skills in-house.
Here are 4 things you need to know about Amazon’s Alexa hub.
1. There Are 20 Agencies Listed on the Hub
As of this writing, Amazon lists 20 agencies on the hub “with expertise in designing, developing, and optimizing Alexa skills.” Those agencies include:
Of course, brands that want to hire one of those companies to handle the heavy lifting of development work will need to pay the appropriate rate. That can get quite expensive.
Fortunately, Amazon also has an alternative for companies that want to develop their own apps.
2. The Hub Links to the Alexa SDK
The Alexa software development kit (SDK) is called the Alexa Skills Kit. The hub links to that as well.
The Alexa Skills Kit is a collection of APIs, documentation, tools, and even code samples that developers can use to hit the ground running.
The kit also includes the Smart Home Skill API so that greenhorn developers can manage their cloud-controlled lighting and thermostat devices. That’s a great way to get started with Alexa for developers who are also fans of the Internet of Things.
For those who are already code geeks, they can download the Alexa Skills Kit for Node.js from GitHub. Then, they can get started developing skills from the convenience of their own PC.
Amazon also offers numerous tutorials so that new developers can create skills. Some of those tutorials include templates that developers can use to quick-start their own skill and facilitate some type of a rapid application development methodology.
It’s also worth noting that, in addition to linking to the SDK, the hub page also links to no less than three different frameworks that developers can use to streamline their own skill development efforts.
3. Amazon Wants Marketers to Develop Alexa Skills
Amazon isn’t shy about offering its Alexa SDK free of charge and promoting skill development for one simple reason: the company wants brands to develop Alexa skills.
Why? Because the more demand there is for Alexa skills, then the more demand there will be for devices that support Alexa. Ultimately, that feeds Amazon’s revenue stream.
As of now, there are already more than 7,000 skills available. Since that’s not nearly enough to generate the kind of demand that Amazon is looking for, the e-commerce giant is pulling out all the stops to encourage buy-in of voice-driven technology.
4. It’s Easier to Develop and Deploy Than It Is to Get Discovered
Although Amazon makes it very easy for developers to create a skill and make it available to users of Alexa-supported devices, that doesn’t mean that other users will find it.
In fact, discovery is currently a big problem for Alexa.
Last year, Amazon put in some effort to make it easier to find skills, but some work still remains to be done.
Also, only about a third of the 7,000 skills available have any reviews. That means users are basically playing guessing games about many apps to determine if they’re the right solution.
That should change in the future. As Amazon is working to streamline the development process for Alexa apps, it’s likely that it will make those apps easier to find once they’re deployed.
In fact, app discovery is also a problem on Android and iOS platforms.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.