Why Voice assistant growth will slow in 2018 but smash it in 2019 and beyond

Lee Mallon
Mar 20, 2018 · 3 min read
Photo by Ben Kolde on Unsplash

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.

Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

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.

Voice like the innovations that have come before have all followed the same path of adoption, and when technology gets into the mainstream before it is ready (we see this also with crypto-currency and block-chain) it gets to a point and then regresses for a period and if the stars align it hits a hockey stick adoption into becoming the dominant platform.

There are many people who don’t feel voice is the next UI experience, calling the use of it lazy and not of value. Though I agree we are currently at an impasse where the hardware has matured to the point of usefulness, software is having to catch up to become the interface of the future which we want.

Still not convinced?

People love convenience, when was the last time, you changed the TV channel through buttons on the TV instead of using a remote controller or boiled water in a pan rather than use the convenience of a kettle?

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash
  • Toast on the grill = toaster
  • Candle = light blub
  • Physical car key = key-less entry
  • Cash = debit card
  • Knocking = doorbell
  • Pin number = contactless
  • Contactless card = smartwatch
  • Letter = email
  • Parking ticket machine = licence plate recognition
  • Supermarket checkout = self-scan and pack
  • Radio seeking = radio pre-sets
  • Washing up = dishwasher
  • Payphone = mobile phone
  • Oven = microwave
  • Wired phone = cordless phone
  • Cassette = CD
  • CD Player = CD disk changer
  • CD = iPod
  • 35mm Camera = Digital Camera on phone
  • Meeting = Skype

What would you like to save time doing?

Made For Voice

Is voice the next UI?

Thanks to Claire Crombie.

Lee Mallon

Written by

Just trying to figure it all out... Apart of @rarelyhq

Made For Voice

Is voice the next UI?