Amazon's voice assistant Alexa can do a lot of things. Officially, she can do over 10,000 things in a home, reports CNET writer Ry Crist. Amazon's Echo system can be paired with a number of third-party systems, where a user can set up "skills" to pair the two products together and activate a non-Amazon product with a voice command. Alexa's set of skills hit 10,000 recently, a 300% increase since last September.

But Crist questions if anyone is actually utilizing all of Alexa's capabilities on a daily basis. He writes:

The answer: sort of. Marquee integrations with services like Spotify and the New York Times obviously get a great deal of play, and the growing number of smart home skills are helping more and more people integrate Alexa into their day-to-day, too.

Beneath those standouts, however, is an ocean of skills with zero ratings and questionable utility, everything from a skill that, for some unimaginable reason, reads off facts about James Prescott Joule whenever you ask for one to something called "sensory organs" that promises "to revealing your favorite sensing part." Calling them solutions in search of problems is probably putting it generously.

Retention is another big problem. A recent report from VoiceLabs claims that, on average, there's only a 3 percent chance that a voice app's user will still be using that voice app one week after enabling it. It's a cloud that's increasingly filled with failures to launch. Still, that's how popular marketplaces tend to work. Quantity is easy -- it's quality that's the tough part. To that end, Amazon is quick to point out that, "many skills have hundreds of reviews and are rated 4-star or higher by customers."

Read more >