The biggest technology story of 2017 was clearly the rapid rise in smart speaker adoption and proliferation of voice assistant access into everyday appliances. The numbers are still rolling in, but it looks like Amazon sold over 20 million Echo smart speakers and Google Home devices were purchased at a rate exceeding one per second between October and the end of the year.
It looks like more than 40 million smart speakers are in circulation in over 20 million U.S. households. This represents an audience exceeding 50 million consumers. And, new smart speaker sales are expected to rise to 56 million in 2018.
Voice Assistants Go Global on Smart Speaker and Smartphones
Consumers in the UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Austria, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, China all started their own wave of smart speaker adoption. In addition, 400 million Android smartphone users were introduced to Google Assistant while another 10 million started using Samsung’s Bixby. Voice assistants also started showing up in televisions, gaming and OTT consoles, kitchen appliances and even mirrors. Voice assistant access is quickly headed toward ubiquity in the environments we inhabit.
This rapid adoption also led to intensive developer activity as Google Assistant apps grew from a few dozen at launch in late 2016 to about 2,000 to close 2017. Even more remarkable, Amazon Alexa skills vaulted from 7,000 at the start of the year to over 25,000 at its close.
XAPPmedia Helped More Media and Brands Access Voice Assistant Users Than Anyone
XAPP quickly recognized the importance of this shift in consumer technology adoption for media organizations and brands. In 2016, we began optimizing our interactive voice platform, One Voice AI, to enable companies to quickly establish a presence on Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana individually and simultaneously. We started 2017 with three voice apps, all on Alexa.
We still only had six voice apps launched through March; three for media, two for brands and one we developed in-house. That included our first Google Assistant app developed for Progressive Insurance. Then things really started to take off. By June, XAPP had launched over 30 voice apps and became the only developer to be recognized as an expert by Amazon, Google and Microsoft. We announced 120 voice apps launched through September, 450 in October and over 650 by year end. Some of those included 300 radio stations for Cumulus | Westwood One, National Geographic’s Bravo Tango Google Assistant app for military veteran mental health, and the first ever voice app for a wine maker, E. & J. Gallo’s Apothic Flight Night. XAPP ended the year accounting for 2.5% of all voice apps on the three leading voice assistants. That made us the leading voice app developer in the world by a factor of 10.
Building for Scale, Quality and Reliability
So, why might these XAPP milestones matter to you? First, we couldn’t have scaled so rapidly if not for a robust platform designed specifically for voice. Other developers start over with each voice app. XAPP’s One Voice AI™ platform enables us to help our customers quickly establish presence on voice assistants, extend that presence with additional targeted voice apps and publish the same voice app with a consistent experience across Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana.
Why Voice Apps Will Be an Even Bigger Deal in 2018
Voice apps on Alexa and Google Assistant will become even more important in 2018. The reasons? Smart speakers and voice assistants on mobile devices have already reached mass market scale. They are an important channel for reach alone, and now the race is on to leverage voice assistants to give consumers greater convenience than ever before. It is incumbent upon every media outlet and brand to create a voice presence and to listen to consumers like never before and to learn how to deliver the convenience they crave. XAPP is looking forward to a very productive 2018 continuing to help media and brands win these consumers through voice.