Amazon has said its devices and services business is not profitable (Representational)
Amazon.com on Friday announced it is trimming jobs at its Alexa voice assistant unit, citing "shifting" business priorities and a greater focus on generative artificial intelligence.
The cuts affect "several hundred" employees working on Alexa, according to the email. A spokeswoman declined to elaborate on exactly how many were affected.
"We're shifting some of our efforts to better align with our business priorities, and what we know matters most to customers - which includes maximizing our resources and efforts focused on generative AI," Daniel Rausch, vice president of Alexa and Fire TV, said in the email. "These shifts are leading us to discontinue some initiatives."
Amazon has been pulling back in a variety of divisions over the past week, including in its music and gaming divisions and some human resources roles.
While most of the roles affected were in the devices division, a few were working on Alexa-related products in a different unit, a spokeswoman said. Many firms are shifting resources to generative AI, which can create software code and lengthy text responses from short prompts.
Reuters reported in September that morale in the devices division had suffered over concerns about what some viewed as a weak product pipeline. In particular, people familiar with the matter pointed to the Alexa voice assistant, now nearly a decade old, as having failed to keep pace in the age of generative artificial intelligence.
Amazon said at the time that "to suggest that a few anecdotes paint a picture of reality for an organization as large and diverse as Devices and Services is inaccurate," and that it stood by its products.
Amazon has said its devices and services business is not profitable, without providing figures.
Alexa is a voice assistant that can be used to set timers, ask search queries, play music, or as a home automation hub.
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