Jeff Bezos-led Amazon.com, Inc.’s Start Platform has partnered with Danish toy brand Lego Systems Inc. for an interactive, voice-enabled building blocks game, Bloomberg reported.
According to the report, children accessing the game will be able to talk to Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa through a storytelling programme as they keep building blocks. Lego said that it was launching the game in the UK and the US.
The report claimed that the company’s move to partner with Alexa was part of Lego CEO Neils B Christiansen’s strategy to make its product relevant to the new generation of children obsessed with screens and digital interfaces.
However, it also said that the moves have been met with mixed results – while the 2014 Lego Movie and a few video gaming programmes were successful, multiplayer video games such as the Lego Universe was a “major flop”.
It further said that the new game will include the plane story and the rabbit story, which Alexa would narrate to the children while assisting them in build structures using the Danish company’s Duplo blocks.
“Children don’t differentiate between physical and digital play,” James Poulter, Lego’s head of emerging platforms and partnerships, was quoted as saying. “Bringing audio into the equation, as with Lego Duplo Stories, is just another way for children to augment and extend their play experience.”
Interestingly, Amazon and Google have been locked in a battle of supremacy over digital assistants. While analysts believe that Amazon might be leading the race with access to more applications, Google released a statement saying that now its digital assistant was a part of 5,000 homes. In comparison, Amzon, during its most recent disclosure, had said that Alexa was part of 4,000 digital homes.
Analysts believe that Alexa’s dominance comes from the number of functions the digital assistant can fulfil. Google call its digital assistant utilities Actions.
“Google Home is nowhere near [the number of skills], and the others, notably [Siri], aren’t anywhere in sight,” Werner Goertz, an analyst at research firm Gartner, told Business Insider.
According to a report from Emarketer released last May, Amazon dominates the voice-controlled speaker market. It had 70.6% of all voice-enabled speaker users in the US compared to 23.8% by Google Home.
Another report from VoiceLabs published in January 2017 had also ranked Alexa as the leading voice AI in terms of market share. Survey data from Edison Research released last June found that Amazon Alexa-enabled devices had an 82% market share compared to just 18% for Google Home.
Amazon has also aggressively partnered with companies in the smart kitchen and automobile space to bring Alexa on their devices.
In January, it had said that the voice assistant will soon start controlling microwaves, smart ovens and refrigerators. Just four days after that announcement, the company said that Alexa would also start interacting with drivers.
In March, Amazon had said that it was training engineers to develop India-specific skills for Alexa that would result in more natural conversations with the assistant as it starts understanding Indian contexts of speech.