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When It Comes To Loss-Making Alexa, Why Amazon Should Think of iPhone

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When Inc. first introduced its Echo smart speaker in 2016, it was mocked in some parts of the tech press as a gimmick.

Why would anyone want a speaker to tell them the day of the week, or ask how many teaspoons were in a tablespoon? It turns out lots of people do.

An estimated 65 million Echo units were sold globally last year, and sales are project to continue increasing. When it comes to scale and popularity, the speaker's digital assistant Alexa has been a tremendous success.

But the snark at the start of Alexa's life was partly right. Financially  it's been a flop. Amazon sells its device at cost and with more than 10,000 employees working on the project, it is bleeding cash.Amazon's devices and services unit, which oversees Alexa, had an annual operating loss of $5 billion in recent years, according to a report earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal.

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