If you’ve been saving money to integrate Shaq’s voice into your Alexa devices, you’ve officially blown it. Amazon is dropping all Alexa-enabled celebrity voices, including Shaquille O’Neal, Melissa McCarthy, and Samuel L. Jackson, it says. Premium voice options will not be available for purchase and will not work anymore even if you purchased a while ago, As mentioned before the edge.
Which brings us to the subject of refunds, and it appears there will be no refunds. This isn’t alarming news, as volume options launched for just $1 before moving to $5 in recent months. However, buying something and having it evaporate into nothing is never fun for consumers. All is not lost, however, as Amazon tells Engadget that it will process refunds upon request.
“After three years, we’re slimming down celebrity voices. Customers will be able to keep using these voices for a limited time, and can contact our customer service team for a refund,” a company spokesperson wrote.
Samuel L. Jackson would be leaving any day now, and with him Official announcement on the purchase page Pointing out that the feature will officially stop working next week. Melissa McCarthy and Shaq will be engaged until sometime in September.
For starters, this feature was an addition of Alexa that turned her usual tunes into celebrity tunes. All of this was somewhat limited when compared to Alexa’s full feature set, as Celebs won’t do reminders and don’t integrate with many skills. However, they tell jokes, answer questions, and complete simple tasks with the help of voice. The service began with Jackson in 2019 but expanded to Shaq and McCarthy shortly thereafter.
So why did Amazon shut down the feature? Alexa is no longer the hottest thing in the universe and the company’s hardware division Recently laid off thousands of people Participate in the design and manufacture of Echo speakers, so you can be a part of it. Again, the feature set with these sounds was on the anemic side, so perhaps not enough people bought them to make up for the licensing costs. Finally, there is an AI elephant in the room. Reports indicate that Amazon Adopting its own large language model (LLM) like ChatGPT to radically transform Alexa, celebrity voices may not fit that vision.
Update, May 30, 2023, 2:50 PM ET: This story has been updated to include a statement from Amazon.
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