Amazon is adding its next high-profile celebrity voice option for its Alexa digital assistant, this time an exclusive for the India market. Starting next year, Alexa users can augment the voice assistant to sound like Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, one of the most prolific actors in Indian cinema and a household name in the country of more than 1.3 billion people.
India is a key growth market for Amazon outside the US, as the e-commerce platform is most popular in Germany and other European countries at the moment. But India’s strong smartphone adoption and the growing purchasing power of its large population make it integral to Amazon’s worldwide expansion over the next decade, particularly around voice interfaces for shopping and web navigation.
“The baritone that has enchanted the Indian film industry for over five decades will soon deliver a unique voice experience to the many Indian customers who use Alexa. Yes, you heard that right! Amitabh Bachchan has partnered with Amazon to create a unique celebrity voice experience,” reads an Amazon blog post published Monday announcing the Bachchan partnership. “Customers in India will be able to access Mr Bachchan’s iconic voice on Alexa by purchasing the Amitabh Bachchan voice experience. This feature will only be available next year.”
It’s not clear how much Amazon intends to charge for Bachchan’s Alexa voice or whether it intends to ever make it available outside India. But last year, the company did partner with actor Samuel L. Jackson for a similar Alexa integration, and Bloomberg reports that the same techniques are being used in the partnership with Bachchan, who recorded a series of phrases for an Alexa database that Amazon will expand using artificial intelligence. That ensures a near-perfect mimic of his voice can be used for words and phrases Bachchan never recorded in the studio. Google used a similar approach when it enlisted musician John Legend’s voice for its limited-time Google Assistant add-on.
Like the Samuel L. Jackson option, which costs 99 cents, the Bachchan option won't entirely replace Alexa but instead be available for certain requests. “It will include popular offerings like jokes, weather, shayaris, motivational quotes, advice and more. When launched next year, customers in India can easily invoke the Amitabh Bachchan voice experience by just asking Alexa and instantly getting their favorite superstar’s voice responding to popular requests,” the blog post reads.