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The best Alexa skills can now get bankrolled by Amazon

Alexa skills have always been free on devices like the Amazon Echo, but that’s not stopping Amazon from paying skill developers anyway. In May, Amazon quietly began rewarding developers with cash for making popular games and trivia skills. Now the company is publicizing the program and expanding it to more categories, including education and reference, food and drink, health and fitness, lifestyle, music and audio, and productivity.

Still, the criteria for getting paid are vague. Amazon says it determines which skills are the most popular with “a variety of metrics, such as minutes of usage, new customers, and other measures of engagement,” but hasn’t specified how those metrics translate into cash. It’s also unclear how much money Amazon intends to pay out overall. Presumably the rewards will be a drop in the bucket for larger companies whose skills are tied to broader business models–think OpenTable or Fandango–but it could motivate smaller developers to give Amazon’s voice platform a shot, or improve the skills they’ve made already.JN