Computex 2018: The stakes are high for ODMs looking to adopt voice

The Snips team is back in our Paris office after a trip to Taipei last week with La French Tech for InnoVEX 2018, a part of the Computex Taipei conference.

Computex is the leading ICT showcase in the APAC region and brings together major players across a range of industries including Electronics, IOT and AR/VR. Original Design Manufacturers (ODM), in particular, were a significant presence at the conference and voice was a popular conversation topic.

With the smartphone market increasingly oversaturated, ODMs are actively looking to pursue new use cases that will help them gain a competitive advantage or refresh existing devices to increase engagement.

Indeed, the mood at Computex also hinted at transformative impact voice could have for PC makers as well.

Against this backdrop, major ODMs see voice as a logical and innovative route to maintaining market prominence. At Computex, this attitude was on full display.

Several common themes emerged during our conversations during the event.

Local voice assistants and their role in customer ownership

Especially in the smart speaker space, most ODMs have already integrated with Alexa, but this was mainly out of necessity rather than an active choice. The companies we spoke to are intimately aware of what that means for customer ownership.

By using Alexa, Google, and many other cloud-based voice platforms, customer data is shipped to an aggressive third party, jeopardizing end-user privacy, brand recognition, and opening up the possibility of customer hijacking.

For ODMs at Computex, there was a sincere awareness that running voice assistants locally on the edge was becoming a best practice for companies looking to protect their brand and users’ privacy alike.

As companies attempt to weigh the risks associated with many popular voice assistants, they are evaluating alternatives that are not reliant on internet connectivity or machine learning in the cloud.

Opportunity to maintain brand identity

In addition to the risks associated with potentially exposing their customers and data, ODMs expressed a desire to white label their voice assistants, allowing them to maintain brand identity and offer new user experiences.

ODMs are familiar with the white label model as it is a common business practice. The ODMS we spoke to at Computex were attracted by the concepts of branded wake words, personalized domains and customized language models available on a per user basis through an API.

These features go a long way towards solidifying their customer base.

Increasingly wide language availability

Voice assistants also unlock avenues for ODMs to enter new markets. At Computex, Chinese and Mandarin were popular topics, of course, and voice companies’ growing expertise in adding new languages has significant implications for ODMs operating in APAC. Snips is already available in French, English, German and Japanese. It takes us between 2–4 months to launch a new language. The rate voice companies can add languages means that ODMs can open new markets for their products quickly.

Viewed together, these three themes may prove to be tipping points that encourage ODMs to go all in on voice.