There’s no denying that voice search is the next big thing in digital. Google and Amazon are pushing voice assistant devices more than ever. And as adoption increases, so does opportunity.
Still thinking about making an app? You might want to reconsider. As you can see, interest in voice assistants has increased massively over the past year. What’s even more exciting is the fact there is still potential for huge growth compared to apps.
As of March 2017, there were 2.8 million apps available in the Google Play store and 2.2 million in the Apple app store. That’s a big crowd. Research from Nielsen, Forrester and App Annie have consistently shown that there is a ceiling to user adoption in apps. When taking into account pre-installed apps, it hovers around 30. If you’re bringing a new app to market, you’re going to have to displace an app that’s already useful.
Voice search is so exciting because it’s a relatively level playing field. There are no big players despite huge projected adoption. Voice assistants are projected to be in 75% of US households by 2020 according to Gartner and Edison research. There’s an opportunity to be one of the first movers in this growing market.
At the time of writing, smart home use-cases are the most prolific in the respective Alexa and Google Home app stores. These perform basic functions such as changing temperature or lighting if the user has the connected hardware. And at its most basic shows that users currently want a seamless home experience.
Research carried out by VoiceLabs on the Alexa App Store found that out of the near 6000 available skills, over two thirds of apps had one or fewer reviews. This represents a clear opportunity for a a brand to dominate its category and achieve relatively high levels of penetration.
Are there any downsides to voice search?
User retention is a big obstacle with less than 5% of users using an app from week two on average. Interestingly you could expect a similar though somewhat less dramatic fall in active users for an app. It may be that most are simply created for novelty or in a “company-first” mindset. They are just not useful for consumers so they are quickly forgotten about.
Paddy Power recently experimented with creating an Alexa skill. They tested a number of types of skill, finding that a flash briefing was most used. You can read more about the test on the e-consultancy blog. One of the key takeaways was the current lack of interest in transactional functionality. Users still don’t trust what they can’t see.
So is it right for your brand?
In this early stage, it’s easy to become well-known. But to avoid the retention cliff edge, it needs to be useful. Genuinely useful. If you’re still unsure, it sounds like you need some audience insight.