Amazon Shows New Cloud Services in Bid to Top Rivals

(Bloomberg) — Inc. unveiled new cloud computing services and tools Wednesday aimed at maintaining its edge over Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc. in the fast-growing, profitable market.

Amazon Web Services Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy announced machine learning capabilities such as speech recognition and translation, intended to make the technology more accessible to developers who don’t have the time or resources to experiment with it on their own.

The presentation showed that Amazon anticipates high demand for machine learning products that can be sold to a variety of industries. Speech and image recognition and real-time language translation were among the tools Jassy unveiled Wednesday at the company’s annual convention in Las Vegas. The gathering is expected to draw 40,000 people for a week of learning about the latest offerings and services.

Amazon introduced SageMaker, which provides popular algorithms for tasks such as parsing data or recognizing images and speech. Amazon also showed off AWS DeepLens, a $249 device to help developers understand and experiment with machine learning. In a demonstration, the camera recognized a smile to be a positive reaction to a music album cover and a frown to be a negative reaction, enabling it to fine tune a customized playlist for the user. Other possible uses are to program a garage door to open when the camera recognizes a license plate number or sending an alert to an owner when their dog jumps on the couch and they aren’t home.

Amazon Web Services, which Jassy has run since its inception 11 years ago, brought in a record $12.2 billion in revenue last year as the company introduced an image-recognition program, a speech-to-text service dubbed Polly and tools for building conversational apps. AWS has data centers around the world that provide computing power for many large companies, such as Netflix Inc. and Capital One Financial Corp. Profits from Amazon’s cloud division help subsidize its other operations, including the bigger e-commerce business.

Amazon uses the cloud event to assert its dominance in the industry, highlighting its broad depth of services like artificial intelligence, image recognition and incorporating its voice-activated Alexa platform into software and devices. Amazon wants to keep capturing growth as more businesses shift from maintaining their own data centers to renting space off-site that they access via the internet.

“We have the broadest machine learning platform,” Jassy said.

The cloud computing market will grow to $89 billion in 2021, up from $35 billion today, according to technology research firm Gartner Inc.

“They’re continuing to introduce an extremely broad spectrum of new capabilities — a something-for-everyone sort of approach,” Gartner analyst Lydia Leong said.

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