Tech Companies’ Future Ambitions

As we head toward the second half of 2020, multiple areas of conversational AI and audio content landscape are heating up for the major technology companies. This week, we see Google piloting a significant voice biometrics feature to help users authenticate purchases, Amazon getting serious about podcast content investments and Microsoft not letting their smart speaker ambitions fade away. Each of these areas represent multi-million and billion dollar markets. With that in mind, it’s no surprise to see tech giants competing for a piece of the pie. It’s still early days for all these advancements, but today’s investments could pay off exponentially in the future.

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Voice Commerce Finds a Match 

Google has launched a ‘voice match’ capability pilot for Google Assistant that will allow users to complete and secure purchases using their voice. According to The Verge, for the time being the feature is “restricted to in-app digital purchases through Google Play, as well as restaurant orders.” Google has noted that security and accuracy of voice match may not yet be foolproof, but the launch of this feature is a significant step toward mainstream use of voice as a biometric. More on The Verge.

The Great Podcast Race 

Reports have emerged that Amazon is seeking to invest in local podcast content in the sports and news verticals. This investment is strategic for Amazon in that it will allow the company to increase their advertising business through audio media with more personalized content offerings as well as enable broader content discovery for Alexa users. While it’s not yet clear if the content would live as part of Audible, Amazon Music, Alexa or some combination of the divisions, it’s a notable play considering recent content investments made by Spotify and Apple. More on Axios.

Microsoft Speaking Up Again? 

Despite past challenges in the space, a new patent has been filed by Microsoft suggesting that they are creating a new smart speaker. One of the primary design features is the use of optical sensors to better shape the audio output based on where the speaker is placed in a room. Notably, there’s no specific mention of their Cortana assistant and it’s unclear whether the AI agent will be accessible on this new speaker. More on TechRadar.

Stats Don’t Lie

8.2% – Q1 2020 increase in global smart speaker sales. (data via Strategy Analytics)

63% – Consumers using voice assistants on their smartphone at least once per week. (data via NPR & Edison)

Chart of the Week

global-smart-speaker-sales-q3-2018-q1-2020-strategy-analytics-01
(Voicebot AI)