🛫The Smart Speaker Market is About to get Noisy

China’s Alibaba, Samsung and Facebook are reportedly the latest tech giants to announce their intentions of joining the smart speaker market. The market, originally pioneered by Amazon, is expected to hit 13bn by 2024.

The smart speaker timeline

Let’s take a closer look at some of the major players in the smart speaker market.

 

Smartspeaker timeline

Amazon was the first player on the market, introducing Alexa and the Amazon Echo back in November 2014. The company enjoyed a monopoly of the market for quite some time and unveiled the Echo Dot in March 2016. Then, in November 2016, Google unveiled Google Home, its smart speaker to rival Amazon’s. Chinese company LingLong also launched its smart speaker DingDong in November. 2017 saw Amazon reveal the Echo Look in April and more recently the Echo Show in June. Apple announced that its smart speaker, HomePod, would be available at the end of the year and Orange has teamed up with Deutsche Telecom to create Djingo, the first French smart speaker, due for release in 2018! Reports revealed that Samsung was working on a Bixby powered smart speaker, and Facebook and Alibaba are also reportedly planning to join the market.

Amazon vs Google

To seduce the developers, the giants of the Internet are waging a war without mercy. Despite the headstart, Alexa is being caught up by Assistant, which is pretty much iso functional today.

Comparing Google Assistant and Alexa

In terms of geographical coverage, we can see in the map below that Assistant is already in front.

Geographical coverage - google home and amazon

Geographical coverage –  Assistant vs Alexa

However, Amazon remains far ahead in terms of the number of voice applications available on the store: +15000 vs 378.

Voice application skills - google home amazon alexa

Finally in terms of product range, Amazon is in front with a solid base of innovative products like the Echo Show and Echo Look. Interstingly those last two devices are more Voice-First than Voice-Only devices opening new UX opportunities.

Accelerators and brakes

The rise in smart homes, in addition to companies wanting to increase consumer experience and convenience, are among the major factors driving the rise of smart speakers. Indeed, today smart speakers are a lot more that a gadget for amusement and they can do a lot more than order a hawaiian pizza! Amazon Alexa, for example, has official skills from the banking, tourism and connected home sector. Privacy concerns owing to the fact that the devices are connected to the internet and can store voice data, as well as connectivity range and compatibility are all potential brakes to this otherwise fast growing market.

This is just the beginning

Voice is one of our primary and most natural methods of communication. Now, thanks to technological advancements it has become a major interface, transforming how we interact with technology. Touchscreens represented the last major shift in the way humans interact with machines, however, the leap to vocal interactions with machines is far more significant, particularly thanks to all the possibilities with third party applications. With an increasing number of players announcing their intentions of joining the smart speaker race, it is clear that this market isn’t going to slow down anytime soon, and it will indeed be fascinating to watch everything unfold. Smartly AI has been an advocate of vocal technology since 2012, and we are delighted to see its mainstream adoption, which encourages us to work even harder to accompany companies in this voice first revolution.

🗣Digital assistants: What’s the big deal?

By 2021 digital assistants are expected to outnumber people.  In America a massive 35.6 million Americans are expected to use a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month. This represents an increase of 129% over last year. According to a study by Grand View Research the intelligent virtual assistant market worth $3.07Bn by 2020. Voice has become a trend too big to ignore, especially when it comes to digital assistants, but what’s deal?

voice devices

A frictionless and natural medium

We are living in an increasingly digital and connected world, which has had consequences on our expectations and exchanges. Today we live in the moment, place great importance on experience and expect instant gratification. Voice reduces friction on any transaction or goal we want users to hit: no time lost typing out a long question or researching, voice is quick and easy and digital assistants give instant results.

Furthermore, voice is one of our primary and most natural methods of communication, making voice a natural interface for humans. Speaking does not normally require a lot of cognitive or mechanical exertion, neither does listening to the response. In fact, a recent study found that 50% less brain activity occurs when processing an answer delivered by voice, meaning people find it much easier to use. Got a question about your agenda, fancy ordering a takeaway or want to know what the traffic is like, you just need to ask! Digital assistants are transforming how we search for information, they even have the potential to disrupt web browsers, this perhaps explains why Google is investing so much in Google Home!

Endless opportunities for third party developers

By working with third party developers, digital assistants are able to even further extend their scope. Both Amazon and Google recently announced financial incentives to encourage developers to build apps for their respective assistants, meaning the possibilities of what can be done with a digital assistant is expanding constantly. For example, connected vacuums from Neato allow you to start or pause their autonomous vacuums using the Amazon Echo.  The fact that digital assistants can be integrated with a smart home takes their practicalness to a whole new level! The devices are useful for the whole family, and are changing our views on machines, widening access and making them an integral part of our lives.

Digital assistants and business

Digital assistants are disrupting our world, from how we shop and interact with our favourite brands, to how we drive our cars and organise our agendas. Consequently, more and more businesses are wanting to harness the power of digital assistants, not only to improve internal procedures through saving time and enhancing human ability, but also to expand their customer base, interact with their own customers, wherever they are and improve customer experience. For example, Virgin Active has recently become the first gym to integrate Amazon Alexa, meaning that gym go-ers can book their next gym class from the comfort of their sofa. Furthermore, Domino’s Pizza recently achieved break out sales, which it partly attributes to its Alexa Skill!

 

dominos

In addition, a recent study found that voice technology drives greater emotional connection with brands, driving engagement and creating deeper relationships between consumers and brands.

Innovation a go-go

The market space is fierce, with tech giants pulling out all the stops to create the most comprehensive digital assistant. Both Google and Amazon have announced their new proactive assistant features, in addition to hands free calling and visual responses. Irrelevant of the company making them, this is great news for the AI industry, powering innovation and creating a booming ecosystem, and further underlines the position of voice as the main medium for human to machine interaction. Voice is our most natural interface and technology is finally exploiting this.