Amazon is expanding its program that pays developers directly for their top-performing Alexa skills, by now offering these “developer rewards,” as they’re called, to those based in the U.K. and Germany who publish “kid” skills. This emerging skill category was one of the last to be included in the developer rewards program, which already offered payments for top skills in over half a dozen other categories, including Education & Reference; Food & Drink; Games, Trivia & Accessories; Health & Fitness; Lifestyle; Music & Audio; and Productivity.
The developer rewards program quietly launched just over a year ago, as a way to encourage developers to build voice apps for Alexa before the ecosystem had expanded to include support for other monetization options like the in-app purchases and subscriptions offered today. The program helped to seed Amazon’s skill store with more content, while also rewarding quality apps that gain traction with consumers.
The initiative has seemingly had an impact – Alexa is now adding 5,000 new skills every 100 days, and reached over 30,000 in the U.S. as of March.
Amazon says today it has since paid out “millions” to developers in 23 countries as a result of this program.
Some individual voice app developers, like game maker Volley, have reported earning in the five-figure range on a monthly basis from Amazon’s program, to give you an idea of the payout potential.
With the expansion to Kids skills in the U.K. and Germany, the hope is now to encourage U.S. developers to roll out their app (or localize it) for other markets.
Making other markets a priority will be important for Amazon, as the smart speaker race heats up outside the U.S. Earlier this month, analysts at Canalys noted that U.S. smart speaker market share fell below 50 percent for the first time. Notably, Google outsold Amazon for the first time as well, with 3.2 million Google Home and Home Minis sold to Amazon’s 2.5 million Echo shipments.
This also comes on the heels of Amazon’s launch of an Echo Dot Kids Edition, which combines Echo Dot hardware with a FreeTime Unlimited subscription for kid-safe content, including, now, the ability to whitelist voice apps.
In addition to the inclusion of kid skills in the developer rewards, Amazon also announced a new perk for developers: free Echo devices. If the skill gains 100 customers in the first 30 days live, developers earn an Echo Dot. If it has the most unique users that month, they earn an Echo Spot. And just for publishing, they’ll receive an Amazon Alexa backpack. These are limited time promotions, however – more details are here (U.K.) and here (Germany).