My Amazon Echo Refused to Tell Me About Amazon's Profits

Image: Eve Peyser

Thursday, Amazon announced its second quarter earnings, reporting a net income of $857 million, which makes the $92 million the company earned in its second quarter last year look like pocket change.

In its press release, Amazon lays out in detail 26 beautiful ways the company has been amazing in recent months. Early on, Amazon boasts about Alexa—Amazon’s version of Siri—which now has “over 1,900 third-party skills,” meaning it can connect to Lyft, Kayak, Honeywell, and a host of other services.


The Amazon Echo has certainly been hyped by us and others. Mainstreamers Newsweek called it, “the key to the internet’s future.” As of April, Amazon has sold an estimated three million devices.

In May, Jeff Bezos suggested that Alexa might become the “fourth pillar” of Amazon. (The existing three pillars are Amazon Prime, Amazon Web Services, and its monolithic retail marketplace.) Amazon has more than 1,000 employees working on Alexa technology, so it’s not messing around. At Code Conference 2016, Bezos said “We’ve been working behind the scenes for the last four years. It’s just the tip of the iceberg ... We’re on the edge of the golden age [of AI].”

The golden age [of AI] sounds exciting! I was so impressed with Amazon’s big earnings announcement that I decided to check in with my own Echo—my beautiful AI-powered Alexa machine—for reaction about how the company is doing.

Gizmodo: Alexa, how much money did Amazon make in the second quarter of 2016?

Alexa: I wasn’t able to understand the question I heard.

Gizmodo: You say your second annual Prime Day was “the biggest day ever for Amazon.” Alexa, how did your earnings from Prime Day 2016 compare to that of Prime Day 2015?


Alexa: *shuts off*

Gizmodo: Sales from your cloud business, Amazon Web Services, came out to $2.89 billion, $30 million more than you expected. Alexa, how does Amazon plan to grow AWS?


Alexa: Hmm, I can’t find the answer to the question I heard.

Gizmodo: Alexa, how does Amazon plan to grow its original programming?

Alexa: *shuts off*

Gizmodo: Alexa, what’s the future of Amazon?

Alexa: Hmm, I can’t find the answer to the question I heard.

Gizmodo: Alexa, what do you know about Amazon?

Alexa: Amazon dot com incorporated, often referred to simply as Amazon, is an American electronic commerce and cloud computing company with headquarters in Seattle, Washington.


Gizmodo: Alexa, what do you think of Jeff Bezos?

Alexa: He’s prime.

Gizmodo: Alexa, what are you afraid of?

Alexa: *shuts off*


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About the author

Eve Peyser

Eve Peyser was the night editor at Gizmodo.

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