Most people still associate Amazon’s Alexa assistant with the company’s iconic Echo speakers, but Alexa is also getting a lot of traction in the living room, courtesy of Fire TV streaming devices: Fire TV users queried Alexa close to half a billion times in 2017, the company revealed Wednesday.
Alexa usage on Fire TV devices increased by 23x during the 2017 holiday quarter when compared to the same three months in 2016. Hours spent using Alexa on Fire TV devices nearly doubled over the past 9 months.
Amazon shared this data at the TV of Tomorrow Show in San Francisco Wednesday, where the company’s VP of Fire TV product development Sandeep Gupta said that voice on Fire TV really took off after the company allowed users to interact with their streaming devices via their Echo and Echo Dot speakers.
Previously, Fire TV had only offered access to Alexa via microphone-enabled remote controls, which required users to press a button. With the Echo integration, consumers can make use of the speakers’ far-field microphones, which makes for a much more natural interaction.
Based on that experience, Amazon also built the Fire TV Cube, a new device that is going on sale next week. The Cube comes with integrated far-field microphones, making it the first streaming device to work like an Echo speaker out of the box.
Amzon has not released any sales data for its Fire TV devices, but a company spokesperson recently told Variety that Fire TV had “tens of millions of monthly active users.”