Voice-enabled speaker usage is going way way up this year
More and more Americans are relying upon voice-activated speakers to get through their day: according to a forecast by eMarketer, 35.6 million Americans will use a voice-activated device like Siri and Amazon Echo at least once a month in 2017.
To put that in perspective, that number is 128.9% higher than last year.
Consumers are warming to the concept of talking technology, and the devices are becoming more sophisticated and less expensive. With easier access to the devices, Americans are finding more reasons to adopt them.
Amazon Echo is by far the most popular assistant, snagging 70.6% of the market.
Second in line is Google Home, with 23.8% of overall usage. However, Google Home is expected to swoop in on some of Amazon’s market share this year. Not enough to dethrone the leader, but enough to make a name for itself. Then there are some hipsters who will use the little guys like LG, Lenovo, Mattel, and Harmon Kardon.
So what’s the difference between a voice-enabled speaker and a virtual assistant?
A voice-enabled speaker is simply a device designed to serve as a voice-enabled digital assistant. Amazon Echo and Google Home both fall into this category.
A virtual assistant, on the other hand, is more broadly defined. This refers to the actual software powering the voice-enabled speakers, like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Now. Usage of virtual assistants is predicted to increase as well this year, with 60.5 million Americans (one fifth of the population) using the software at least once a month.
Not surprisingly, digital assistants are most popular among older millennials– the 25-34 year old age group makes up 26.3% of all users.
These folks value virtual assistants for their functionality, and they’re not messing around. They use them for practical reasons, integrating their digital helpers seamlessly into their day-to-day lives.
Virtual assistants have become increasingly intelligent as more users adopt them. Last year Amazon announced the addition of thousands of commands — referred to as “intents” — to the Alexa Skill Kit, which previously had only 15 intents like “Stop” and “Cancel.” It’s kind of like Alexa has blossomed from a toddler to a teenager who understands complex concepts like weather.
There’s no doubt the other virtual assistants will continue to mature as well. As they become more advanced, will they become more human-like? They have the potential to become the ideal friend who remembers everything you say, is always by your side, and doesn’t judge you for ordering pizza at 3 in the morning.
Maybe one day we’ll all have virtual assistants and while we hang out with friends, our virtual assistants will hang out with each other. It only sounds far-fetched until someone develops it.