Voice Wars: AI-Powered Voice-Assist Projects Race to Market

PM Network, and Steve Hendershot

Creation means nothing. 

It’s survival that counts, in the emerging world of voice-assistant technology. More than 5 billion consumer devices made use of some type of voicedriven digital assistant last year, according to market research firm IHS Markit. And 61 percent of adults 25 to 64 anticipate using these devices more in the future than they have in the past, according to a 2018 PwC survey. The mad rush of brands racing to make their mark in the new artificial intelligence (AI) voice-assisted world is reminiscent of the mobile-app explosion a decade ago. Yet, much like the early days of mobile apps, being a standout offering with sizable market share requires gaining an early toehold in this tumultuous new terrain and delivering value that does not disappoint.

 

Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google Home are the biggest brands driving the race to get a voice-aware speaker in every smartphone, vehicle and kitchen around the world. But those devices are also blank canvases for third-party brands eager to develop voice-controlled apps, tools and features in order to drive sales and bolster brand loyalty or reputation.

As of September, approximately 3,500 brands had produced applications for the Alexa platform, for instance—up from 1,200 at the beginning of last year. The number of "skills" built …

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