Here’s the problem with inviting a virtual assistant into your home: You get so used to it being there — answering your questions, fulfilling your commands — that you’re lost when it suddenly stops working. That’s what happened for the many Amazon Alexa users in Europe when the country experienced a near total service outage on Wednesday, September 26.
Alexas in Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe stopped responding at around 8 a.m. GMT and remained down until around 2 p.m. GMT, according to The Verge. DownDetector, a site that allows users to report any outages they are experiencing, showed a massive spike in reports during the timeframe of the downtime.
While the Alexas were struggling to connect, the devices displayed a red ring and would respond to questions by saying, “Sorry, I’m having trouble understanding right now. Please try again later.”Users also reported that their Alexa would say, “The Alexa app on my phone is showing ‘Sorry, we’re experiencing system issues’, and it says they’re working on the problem.”
Amazon hasn’t provided details as to what caused the outage but did confirm that it occurred. Amazon also experienced issued with its Amazon Web Services based in Ireland, which may have contributed to the issue, Engadget reported.
This isn’t the first time Amazon’s Alexa has taken an unplanned break. Earlier this year, the voice assistant suffered from an unexpected outage that mostly affected the United States. The occurrence elicited some very angry and very funny responses on social media, as people were forced to realize just how reliant on Alexa they had become.
These types of outages aren’t just inconveniences for customers, it also presents a real problem for Amazon as it attempts to expand its presence in people’s homes. The company recently announced an expansion to its line of smart devices that includes smart plugs, internet-connected cameras, and even a microwave that is compatible with Alexa. It’s one thing to have your smart speaker go offline and have to Google things for yourself for a little while. It’s a real problem if your electrical plug, security system, or major appliance is suddenly unusable.