Amazon came up with the feature of adding celeb voices over its virtual assistant smart speaker technology, Alexa way back in the year 2019, this allowed the users of Alexa to add voices of their favorite and worldwide renowned personalities.
This feature worked just as normally as the Alexa voice-over, it’s just that the device adapted to the machine learning and added lifelike voices, to reply back in celeb voices. Rather than using pre-recorded responses, the model generates voices with entertaining personalities.
However, the news coming out recently is Amazon has discontinued this feature from Alexa, the voices of famous celebs like Morgan Freeman, Amitabh Bachchan, Samuel L. Jackson and others won’t be available even after purchase, however Amazon has confronted refunds to those who bought the feature if they just contact the customer support of the app.
Earlier users could easily add the amazing voices of the above mentioned celebs and more at a starting price of fairly cheap $0.99 which ranged up to $4.99. In India, Amitabh Bachchan’s voice rolled out on Amazon Echo, Echo Dot at $2 i.e. INR 149.
After three years, we’re winding down celebrity voices, customers will be able to continue using these voices for a limited time, and can contact our customer service team for a refund.
Amazon spokesperson Eric Sveum says in a statement to The Verge.
Those who purchased Amitabh Bachchan’s voice, it read on the page that ”This skill is no longer available for purchase. Customers who previously purchased this experience will continue to have access for one year from the date of purchase.” For Shaquille O’Neal this date is extended till 30th September, whilst for those with Mr. Samuel L. Jackson’s voice package, the feature will only last till 7th of June.
It is still not specified that why has Amazon suspended this feature which was launched with such certainty but a recent report from Insider suggests that the company has plans to rework Alexa amidst the rise of ChatGPT and may use its own large language model (LLM) to make Alexa “more proactive and conversational.” Perhaps Alexa’s celebrity voices don’t fit into this vision, or maybe they’ve just become too costly to license.