The new age of voice and digital assistants has woven themselves into the fabric of our lives. From getting directions, making reservations, checking the weather forecast, to turning on the lights, buying goods or requesting music. The technology is gradually transforming how we interact with the digital world, radically changing the relationship between human and machine; it’s not a product anymore, but an experience reshaping the usual state of things.
Here are some key pointers on the emergence of voice technology in India, based on the Recogn-WATConsult report ‘Voice Technology in India: Now and Future - Consumer and business perspective’.
The Indian voice market is accelerating at a rapid pace and is set to register a 2.8X growth by 2022. According to the latest Recogn-WATConsult report on voice technology, the speech and voice technology market stands at Rs 1.5 billion as of December 2019, nearly 40% over 2018. It is expected to grow at 40.83% CAGR to reach a market size of Rs 4.17 billion by the end of 2022.
The main drivers for this unprecedented growth are: changing consumer demands, smartphone ubiquity, and advancement in smart home technology and mass adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning in our everyday lives. Voice technologies are unlocking new ways of personalisation to build an authentic and emotional connection with consumers, shifting interactions from transactional to deeper, meaningful relationships.
In the last decade, the digital assistants were added in all digital devices including computers, smart speakers, dashboards and watches. Though Google Assistant is perceived to be the smartest voice assistant amongst the others, Alexa is reliable in terms of managing smart home devices and usability, while Cortana is perceived to be accurate with search results but less intelligent to understand the lingo and dialect of the user.
Smartphones: When voice assistants began to emerge in 2011, with the introduction of Siri, no one could predict it to become a driver for tech innovation. With high concentration of smartphone penetration in the Indian consumer market, majority of the users are using voice assistants on smartphones.
Smartphones outnumber smart speakers in terms of ownership and usage. The popularity of Siri and Google is also likely due to the sheer volume of smartphones when compared with smart speakers. Both Siri and Google are more aligned with smartphones while Alexa is more closely aligned with smart speakers. Smartphones (60%) are heavily used to give voice commands followed by laptops (28%) and smart speakers (26%). Convenience and accessibility is yet another factor for the preference of smartphones over other devices to access voice.
Smart speakers: Not too long ago, owning a smart speaker like Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant was a rare novelty. But now, they have become household staples. Amazon was the first tech company to develop smart speakers in late November 2014, promising a new easy way to control your music with your voice. Since then the Alexa assistant, that powers Echo devices, evolved from novelty to in-the-home powerhouse. Google Home launched in November 2016, legitimised a multi-platform ecosystem of voice-first devices.
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