A layperson’s exploration of all things voice

Category Archives: Trends & Stats

April 8, 2021

Wikipedia to Start Charging Voice Assistants for Data Access

Here’s the intro from this voicebot.ai article:

Voice assistants may soon need to pay Wikipedia to find answers to some of the questions users pose. The Wikimedia Foundation, the umbrella organization that encompasses Wikipedia and its sibling wiki-projects, is launching Wikimedia Enterprise to start packaging and selling Wikipedia’s content to Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google, including their respective voice assistants, as first reported by Wired.

January 6, 2021

Voice Assistant Use Through Smart Hearables Earbuds Has Doubled

According to this Voicebot.ai article, since 2018, hearable ownership by U.S. adults has risen about 23% and voice assistant use through hearables grew by 103% from 21.5 million in 2018 to 43.7 million in 2020. The data show that hearables and voice assistant adoption are complementary technology trends.

December 8, 2020

The Rise of “Audio Chat”

Here’s some commentary from the “Rain” agency:

Digital conversations with friends and colleagues have traditionally revolved around text – typing on our keyboards or phones to communicate messages. Although the pandemic has created new demand for video conferencing, screen fatigue has started setting in, leaving space for a new kind of communication platform driven by voice. Several companies have started to populate this new audio ecosystem, trying to leverage voice conversations for personal and professional use.

From Discord to Clubhouse, these kinds of voice-driven platforms are becoming more common, and now we’re seeing mainstream platforms like Twitter recognizing value here as well. As many of us continue to work remotely, audio chat is emerging as a unique way to maintain human connection and rapport.

November 23, 2020

Nearly Half of Consumers Want Voice in Their Apps

Here’s the intro from this Voicebot article:

Voicebot’s biannual Smartphone Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report considered new questions in 2020 around consumer interest in and experience with voice interaction within mobile apps. A key finding is that consumers have strong interest in voice interactivity within mobile apps and more experience with these features than many people realize. Just over 45% of consumers said they would “very much” or that “it would be nice” to have voice assistant features within their favorite mobile apps. This figure compares to just 25% that said they were not interested.

May 12, 2020

The Latest Smart Speaker Stats

As would be expected with all of us home, voice is being used more now than ever (see this “pandemic use” article). Meanwhile, the latest Voicebot.ai annual stats show that voice on smart speakers is up a third in a year. Here’s an excerpt from their article:

– The U.S. smart speaker installed user base is now 87.7 million adults, up 32% over a year earlier
– This equates to a population adoption rate of 34.4%
– Smart speaker user base growth rate slowed in 2019 over 2018 despite adding more than 20 million new users

March 26, 2020

How People Are Using Voice In Their Cars

Here’s the intro from this Voicebot.ai article:

You may hear that voice assistant use depends on context, but you rarely see data that backs up those statements. The In-car Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report 2020 breaks down 15 consumer use cases and shows that “making a phone call” is by far the most common activity while driving. Seventy-three percent of voice assistant users in the car say they are making phone calls by voice followed by asking for directions at 49.7%, and sending a text by 38.9%. The fourth and fifth most common use cases were “playing a streaming music service” and “playing the radio” with 27.0% and 14.0% respectively. These results are from a nationally representative sample of 1,090 U.S. adults in January 2020.

Meanwhile, this piece explains how voice plays a role in buying a car for 60% of car buyers…

February 11, 2020

More Brands Develop Proprietary, Niche Smart Assistants

RAIN has posted its list of predictions for this year – including this one:

On the heels of Beeb, Erica, and Hey Mercedes, 2020 will see brands in many industries seeking more control over their voice assistant footprint – spanning data and the customer experience – in the form of creating “owned” voice assistants in their brand’s image. There will be another set of major brands – from automotive to consumer electronics, financial services to QSR – that introduce their own voice agents, with their own personas and voices, in the year to come.

The Voice Interoperability Initiative will begin to connect these more disparate, specialist assistants with more generalist intelligences like Alexa, so as to make them more useful in more places.

January 29, 2020

How Voice is Progressing in Asia, Africa & Australia

In this podcast, Voicebot.ai’s Bret Kinsella talks with Matt Ware of FIRST (up to the 24:30 mark) to get the perspective of how voice is progressing in Asia and Australia. Here are some of the points made:

1. The Chinese government’s emphasis on becoming the leader in AI leads them to work closer with large tech companies in that country, sharing data with them, providing financial support & taking into account their needs in international diplomacy.

2. Large Chinese companies – like Baidu, Alibaba – have made inroads into many non-anglo countries by building out infrastructure upon AI will depend upon. This is particularly true in India and Africa.

3. By figuring out how voice works for a complex language like Chinese – which tends to more complicated sentence structures than the English language – it makes it actually easier for them to then handle “easier” languages in voice.

4. In Australia, there is a significant segment of the population that is Chinese. These Chinese ex-pats help to make Chinese technology the norm in that country.

5. Matt believes that the privacy initiatives in the US & Europe might only temporarily slow the development of AI & voice there since the transparency those initiatives provide to the general public might make the lack of privacy acceptable (eg. the opt-in rates under GDPR so far). Matt acknowledges that others view the situation more dire.

6. At the 20-minute mark, Matt & Bret discuss the challenges of discoverability – at the 23-minute mark, Matt gives his thoughts about whether China can be the first to fix that problem.

January 27, 2020

Alexa Skill Growth Slows Considerably

As noted in this Voicebot.ai article, the growth rate of U.S. Alexa skills was 25% in 2019 compared to 120% growth in 2018, a big drop on a relative basis but the nominal decline was also sharp. New Alexa skills per day in 2017 was 51.3 and rose to 85.0 in 2018, but fell to only 38.2 last year. So while the Alexa user base is growing quickly, developer activity appears to be shrinking. Here’s an excerpt from the article explaining perhaps why this is the case:

Much of this decline is likely attributed to less aggressive promotion in 2019 for new Alexa skill launches and a reduction in both the number of contests and rewards programs. Amazon has historically offered many incentives to developers ranging from t-shirts to smart displays for launching new skills. In 2019, these were curtailed compared to 2016-18 and Amazon started asking developers to focus more on quality than quantity of skills.

Amazon also didn’t run many contests with monetary prizes and began reducing payouts in the developer rewards programs in the U.S. These were both tangible incentives for developers to invest in building new skills for Alexa. The contests could deliver immediate payouts and the rewards program might lead to a recurring check for successful skills. Some Alexa developers have shared privately with Voicebot that they have reduced their activity on the platform or stopped working in the ecosystem altogether because of these changes.

Sarah Andrew Wilson of Matchbox.io thinks that the hobbyists are no longer experimenting with Alexa skills and that is invariably reducing new skill introductions.