Democratizing Voice for Customers and Companies

2011. 2014. 2016. In a matter of nine years, the three major voice assistants—Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google’s Assistant—were released, reconstructing the ways we incorporate technology into our lives. Although Amazon leads in smart speaker market share and Google and Apple lead in monthly active users in total devices, other notable players such as Microsoft Cortana, Sonos, and Samsung Bixby present real challenges to the mainstream assistants. But even as the competition shakes up, consumers are faced with only a few choices for smart speakers and voice assistants. This, coupled with the scrutiny of alleged monopolistic practices of Apple, Google, and Amazon by regulators in the US and Europe, has forced the tech companies to create a voice world that is friendlier to rising newcomers with programs such as Project Connected Home over IP and the Voice Interoperability Initiative—both of which announced their next steps this week.

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Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Project Connected Home over IP—the program launched in December 2019 to make it easier for manufacturers to create smart home devices that can accommodate Alexa, Siri, and Google—is set to roll out in 2021. The open-source platform sets a unified standard for the development of smart home products in categories including lighting and electrical, safety and security, HVAC controls, and more. Not only does this smooth the creation of smart home products that work with each other, but it also seeks to place the assistants on equal footing as the voice competition heats up. More on The Verge

Joining the Voice Club

In September 2019, Amazon introduced the Voice Interoperability Initiative to ensure that customers weren’t forced to choose only one option for a voice assistant. Recently, companies such as Dolby, Facebook, and Xiaomi joined the program. However, Google, Samsung, and Apple are noticeably absent from participation so far. With Amazon’s release of its Multi-Agent Design Guide, the program is structured to help experience designers create multi-assistant products where customers can choose their preference; but with major voice players missing, the future of a democratized voice landscape is still in the works, even with Project Connected Home. More on VentureBeat

You Used to Call Me On My Cell Phone

Speaker phone is being taken to another level. AT&T customers in the United States can now make and receive phone calls through Alexa devices once they link their phone numbers in the Alexa app. With this new feature, customers’ phones can even be out-of-reach, turned off, or have no battery. This isn’t Alexa’s first foray into the space—users can use their Echo speakers to call other Echo devices or landline numbers for free. As Amazon pushes Alexa to be the hub of all home activity, traditional ways of communication are being challenged. More on TechCrunch

Stats Don’t Lie   

50,000+ The number of smart home devices that Google Assistant operates in. (data via Voicebot.ai)

72% of Pandora voice-activated ad listeners described the ads as easy to use. (data via Mobile Marketer)

Chart of the Week

Voice Search Average Answer Length SEM Rush
(SEM Rush)