A layperson’s exploration of all things voice

May 22, 2019

What is Voice Used For? Depends on the Surface

This “voicebot.ai” article has a great chart showing the different ways that smart speakers are being used. This excerpted insight is particularly interesting:

Many people have suggested that voice really needs a killer app to succeed. The premise behind that sentiment is flawed because it assumes voice is one thing. Voice assistants can help with a wide variety of use cases and be used across multiple device surfaces. What we are likely to see is a series of killer apps some of which may be localized to a particular surface. For example, voice interactive navigation may be a killer app for the car, but only a minor benefit for smart speakers and inconsistently used on mobile. You can learn more about voice assistant use on other surfaces in the Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report from late 2018 and the In-Car Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report from 2019.

Smart speaker adoption is so strong because it already has a killer app trio with listening to music as the foundation. There is little doubt that convenience for getting weather information and answers to questions is valued by consumers. You can see it clearly in their behavior. However, it is unclear whether these features alone have driven smart speaker adoption. Music listening is different because it fills a voice left by the disappearance of radios and stereo systems in many households. And, music listening through streaming services and the radio are both among the top six smart speaker use cases. Far-field voice recognition paired with music and other audio services are an ideal match of form and function.

I agree with the commentary that follows this excerpt about how third-party skills offer users many more options to use voice – but that these skills have a discovery problem. Many owners of smart speakers simply don’t know they have access to these skills – or haven’t spent the time looking for the right ones for them. We will see how that changes over time…