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Building a software ecosystem is not easy. You need to create demand for the platform, develop the platform for both users and developers, create developer tools and attract developers. Then, you need to help developers market their creation to users.

The Amazon team is definitely putting a lot of effort into getting developers into the Alexa Skills Kit platform. However, there is a huge challenge that this team has on top of all the other challenges of creating a software platform.

Echo users are literally blind to Alexa Skills.

Unless an Echo user uses the Alexa companion app, or visits alexa.amazon.com, they are unlikely to ever see a skill. They also need to be educated on what a skill is in the first place and what the benefit is to the user.

While some of the skills out there are dubious (though this is improving significantly every day), there are some great ones that are coming out all the time (like 7 Minute Workout and Uber). However, if the potential application of the Skill is a once in a blue moon activity, the effort of searching, enabling, and then invoking the skill is a bit too much for all but die hard users.

What will likely happen over time is that these skills get assimilated into the overall knowledge of Alexa and eventually, Alexa will ask us whether she can learn the skill on our behalf. Maybe Alexa Skills Kit will become less of a market place and more of a settings page for us to configure.

Given the large investments Amazon is making in Alexa and the huge number of users that are now acquiring devices (and soon Alexa Voice Service enabled devices), now is the time for brands to get in on skills building. We’re likely three months away from a huge land rush for Alexa Skills.

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