Amazon discontinues Alexa celebrity voices

Amazon discontinues Alexa celebrity voices

Say goodbye to the sounds of Samuel L. Jackson, Shaq, and Melissa McCarthy.

(Credit: Getty Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket)

Alexa, say goodbye to Samuel L. Jackson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Melissa McCarthy.

Amazon is discontinuing celebrity voices on its virtual assistant and smart speaker platform.

The sweet shades of this unlikely trio are no longer available to buy and will be disappearing entirely later this year, starting with Nick Fury himself.

Samuel Jackson launched Amazon’s Celebrity Voice show in 2019, when the actor’s iconic doorbell became the best-selling digital purchase online. Users can download the ability for $0.99 to ask Jackson important questions, like what is his favorite movie line or how much wood a groundhog could throw if a groundhog could throw wood.

Its digital persona appreciated over time, eventually costing $4.99; Shaq and McCarthy arrived in the summer of 2021 for the same price. The one-time fee didn’t seem too steep when people expected to interact with celebrities for years to come, learning McCarthy’s self-described “midwestern nose” vocal stylings or listening to former basketball pro O’Neal rap.

“After three years, we are removing celebrity voices,” an Amazon spokesperson told The Verge(Opens in a new window). “Customers will be able to continue using these voices for a limited time and can contact our customer service team for a refund.”

But the tech titan won’t give users much time to say goodbye: Samuel L. Jackson’s Alexa voice(Opens in a new window) will disappear on June 7, while O’Neal(Opens in a new window) new window) and McCarthy(Opens in a new window) are available until September 30.

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It’s not known exactly why Amazon is ditching its celebrity voices. Recent reports suggest that Amazon plans to rework Alexa to keep up with the growing interest in generative AI, and may use its own large language model (LLM) to improve the virtual assistant. Or, as The Verge points out, perhaps the voices became too expensive to license.

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