Why Voice assistant growth will slow in 2018 but smash it in 2019 and beyond
Christmas 2017 saw an explosion of voice assistant hardware spend, a rumoured 30 million voice-enabled devices were sold over the festive period filling everyone’s stockings.
At CES in January the big tech names dominated by home assistant platforms with every hardware partner advocating their voice-enabled support.
Why would things slow in 2018?
This explosion of voice assistants adoption has happened prematurely; Google has funnelled its powerful general knowledge system into Google search, and their physical speaker Google Home. Amazon made the financial outlay almost zero with a £35 smart speaker accessible for any age to get started with voice. Microsoft announced over 130 million users were using Cortana each month as Apple finally released the HomePod with Siri support.
With over 50% of people having tried voice commands in the last six months, we have been greeted with an adoption scale larger than any other UI shift before it.
The problem is the eco-system and platforms are not there yet to accommodate this mainstream audience beyond the basic functionality of playing music, setting timers and asking for the weather.
As these platforms try to keep up with user demand, they add more sophisticated functionality trying to get into more complex conversational experiences too quickly.
I have noticed this myself, with the expansion of more native voice command there has become a drop in accuracy for the services I use regularly or I have become lazy in how I interact, either way these platforms are still finding their place in our lives. There is a polarising opinion of “listening” devices in the home and the recently issues around Alexa randomly playing a witches laugh unprompted will set market trust back a few steps as will a wide spread hack that we are surely due this year.