The good news: Early signs from Amazon indicate the company is committed to keeping Alexa open to rivals and the public.
Smart assistants haven't yet replaced smartphone apps as the primary way we interact with computers, but Amazon is already preparing for what might happen if they do.
The company's Echo devices, which are powered by Amazon's Alexa assistant, are early leaders in the smart-speaker category.
Thanks to their success and Amazon's decision to license Alexa widely for use in other companies' devices, the e-commerce giant has positioned itself to have a preeminent role in speech-based computing.
If the trends continue — and voice becomes the dominant way we interact with our devices — Alexa could become the primary way we search, shop, and consume media online.
During IGNITION on Thursday, I interviewed Toni Reid, Amazon's vice president in charge of its Alexa and Echo businesses.