Amazon Alexa users who bought the voices of Samuel L. Jackson, Shaquille O’Neal or Melissa McCarthy for their devices will have to return to the normal vocal over the next few months.
Amazon has discontinued the three celebrity options for Alexa, all of which are no longer available for purchase. The voices responded to the celebrity’s name and offered unique messages — such as profanity, under a setting available for Mr. Jackson — but were unable to work with shopping, lists, reminders or other Alexa Skills features.
Refunds will be available for consumers.
“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 spokesman Eric Sveum told The Verge.
Mr. Jackson’s voice was the first to arrive in 2019 and is the first to go. While a notice on the Amazon page says his voice left Alexa devices after April, that deadline was extended to June 7.
The voices of Mr. O’Neal and Ms. McCarthy, originally launched in 2021, will stay on Alexa through Sept. 30.
While Amazon has not disclosed specifics as to why the celebrity voices have been given the kibosh, they were more limited in interaction features than the regular Alexa, which itself has not been a profit provider for the e-commerce giant.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Amazon device division that oversees Alexa products has had annual operations losses of over $5 billion in recent years. Almost 2,000 employees in that department were laid off in recent months.
“What we did is we looked at projects that were probably, in this uncertainty, the risk-reward for those projects, and what they might deliver for customers wasn’t quite there. Part of that was in Alexa,” Dave Limp, senior vice president of devices and services for Amazon, explained to CNBC regarding the layoffs and the shuttering of experimental Amazon projects.
Discontinued products include the Amazon Halo line’s health devices, which stopped being sold in April. The two wearable tracking bands, the Halo Band and Halo View, and the contactless smart alarm and sleep tracker, the Halo Rise, will no longer be supported starting Aug. 1.