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Amazon to offer premium Alexa apps for a fee

Third-party developers creating voice apps for Alexa will be able to charge a subscription fee for premium features.

Thanks to an integration with Domino's, you can ask Alexa to order a pizza for you. Soon third-party developers will be able to offer premium services within Alexa voice apps. 
Photo by Chris Monroe/CNET

Amazon will allow third-party developers to offer premium subscriptions to apps they create using the online retailer's voice-controlled speaker.

The first voice app, or "skill" as Amazon calls it, to offer the subscription is Jeopardy, which allows users to play the popular game show at home. Amazon Prime members who already use the Jeopardy skill will receive six additional Double Jeopardy clues every weekday at no charge, as part of their membership. Customers who are not Prime members have the option to purchase a monthly subscription to Double Jeopardy for $1.99 a month. Customers can subscribe directly from the current Jeopardy voice app and can cancel at any time using the Alexa app.

Amazon is making a tool kit available for developers to build this capability into their voice apps so they can have a chance to monetize them. While the premium Jeopardy subscription for Alexa will be free to Prime users, that won't always be the case with other apps, an Amazon spokeswoman said.  In the past, Amazon has rewarded top performing Alexa app developers, but it has not allowed them to charge Alexa customers for using the services.

"Bringing a subscription model to skills for Alexa will bring customers the benefit of new, engaging, and high-quality experiences while providing developers an additional way to earn money from their skills," the company said in an statement. 

TechCrunch earlier reported on the addition.

Amazon is a leading player in the smart home market with its digital assistant Alexa that runs on Amazon Echo, Echo Show or Echo Dot devices. Amazon is now facing much more competition from Google, Apple and Samsung, who are all working to get a piece of the smart home and voice assistant markets. Making sure developers create apps for Alexa could help the company attract users and keep them loyal to the Alexa brand.

Updated 3:08 PM PT: This story was updated to clarify that not all premium apps on Alexa products will be free to Amazon Prime customers.