Amazon continues to shift and consolidate popular product features to push more users into its Prime program.
It recently announced it was discontinuing its free Alexa Guard service which provides home security protection, shifting some of the features to a subscription service.
Well I guess this explains how Alexa Guard works with Alexa Emergency Assist: it doesn’t! AEA offers a way for Amazon to paywall some of the Guard features that used to be free 😡 pic.twitter.com/uF7lKcRGvK
— Jimmy (@automated_hous) September 22, 2023
Alexa Guard was offered free to Amazon Echo clients and allowed homeowners to get warnings if the Echo detected the sound of breaking glass, or smoke or carbon dioxide warnings.
The service also allowed users to set up lighting patterns to automatically turn lights on and off to make the home appear occupied.
The lighting control features have migrated to standard Alexa capabilities.
But the safety features like glass breakage and safety detection warning will now move to Amazon’s Emergency Assist offering.
Emergency Assist allows homeowners to call for help by speaking directly to their Echo and costs $5.99 monthly and is only available to Prime subscribers.
This focus on user safety follows similar announcements by Apple which added safety features to its phone via its Emergency SOS features, which is free for now but will be an upcharge soon.
Likewise, Google added crash detection to its Pixel phone which is free for now.
The trend of charging for formerly free features is called “paywalling” and has become a common practice among content providers such as newspapers.
As content shifts to more digital domains content providers must find ways to monetize their offerings to keep the lights on and pay staff.
But shifts like Amazon’s announcement of charging for services like Emergency Assist seem from the outside to be a simple play for more dollars to help pad the bottom line.