Voice shopping estimated to hit $40 billion across U.S. and U.K. by 2022

The growing popularity of smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home will lead to an detonation in voice-based shopping, according to a new market research report from OC& C Strategy Consultants out this week. The firm is bullishly predicting that voice shopping will grow to a whopping $40 billion-plus in 2022, up from$ 2 billion today across the U.S. and the U.K.

This sizable increase will be driven by Amazon’s smart speaker sales, in particular, research reports said.

This forecast far surpasses earlier estimates of voice shopping revenues in the years ahead. While not an exact comparing, RBC Capital Markets lately predicted Amazon would generate $10 to $11 billion in marketings from Alexa devices- including device marketings themselves and voice shopping- by the year 2020.

Screen Shot 2018 -0 3-02 at 12.37.13 PM

Screen Shot 2018 -0 3-02 at 12.33.38 PM

Advertisements

Voice interfaces beginning to find their way into business

Imagine attending a business meeting with an Amazon Echo( or any voice-driven device) sitting on the conference table. A topic starts about the month’s sales numbers in the Southeast region. Instead of opening a laptop, opening a program like Excel and find the numbers, you simply ask the device and get the answer instantly.

That kind of scenario is increasingly becoming a reality, although it is still far from common place in business just yet.

With the increasing popularity of devices like the Amazon Echo, people are beginning to get used to the idea of interacting with computers using their voices. Anytime a phenomenon like this enters the consumer realm, it is only a matter of time before we see it in business.

Chuck Ganapathi, CEO at Tact, an AI-driven marketings tool that uses voice, type and touch, says with our devices changing, voice makes a lot of sense. “There is no mouse on your telephone. You don’t want to use a keyboard on your telephone. With a smart watch, “were not receiving” keyboard. With Alexa, “were not receiving” screen. You have to think of more natural ways to interact with the device.”

As Werner Vogels, Amazon’s chief technology policeman, pointed out during his AWS re: Invent keynote at the end of last month, up until now we have been limited by the technology as to how we interact with computers. We type some keywords into Google employing a keyboard because this is the only way the technology we had allowed us to enter information.

“Interfaces to digital systems of the future will no longer be machine driven. They will be human centric. We can construct human natural interfaces to digital systems and with that a whole environment will become active, ” he said.

Amazon will of course be happy to help in this regard, introducing Alexa for Businessas a cloud service at re: Invent, but other cloud companies are also exposing voice services for developers, constructing it ever easier to build voice into an interface.

While Amazon took aim at business immediately for the first time with this move, some companies had been experimenting with Echo integration much earlier. Sisense, a BI and analytics tool company, introduced Echo integration as early as July 2016.

But not everyone wants to cede voice to the big cloud vendors , no matter how attractive they might make it for developers. We saw this when Cisco introduced the Cisco Voice Assistant for Spark in November, using voice technology it acquired with the MindMeld buy the previous May to provide voice commands for common meeting tasks.

Roxy, a startup that got $2.2 million in seed fundin November, decided to build its own voice-driven software and hardware, taking aim, for starters, at the hospitality industry. They have broader aspiration beyond that, but one early lesson they have learned is that not all companies want to give their data to Amazon, Google, Apple or Microsoft. They want to maintain control of their own client interactions and a solution like Roxy devotes them that.

In yet another example, Synqq introduced a notes app at the beginning of the year that uses voice and natural language processing to add notes and calendar entries to their app without having to type.

As we move to 2018, we should start ensure even more examples of this type of integration both with the help of big cloud companies, and companies trying to build something independent of those vendors. The keyboard won’t be rendered to the dustbin just yet, but in scenarios where it makes sense, voice could begin to replace the need to type and offer a more natural route of interacting with computers and software.

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com

South Park trolled Amazon Echo owners in the best way possible

This is one of the minor perils of owning an Amazon Echo. Most everyone can activate the device by just saying the aftermath term, including Cartman. And in the season opener of South Park, that’s exactly what happened.

Watch.

If someone watched that episode of South Park in the same room as an Echo, their Amazon shopping list was filled with random, gross items.

This example shows the potential danger of having a voice-activated shopping deputy. It’s easy to imagine a potential rascal advertising, online or elsewhere, that could, in theory, say the right terms to order a particular product — like a South Park box set.

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com

The Amazon Echo now doubles as a home intercom system

Amazon will officially release the Show in a few days, but in the meantime, the company is introducing a long-awaited intercom feature for existing Echo devices. The addition use Drop-In, a teleconferencing feature introduced on the Show that lets close friends and family members call into one anothers device with little warning.

I actually didnt like the feature when I tested the device the coming week I detected it to be pretty intrusive compared to standard calling, but this implementation makes a lot more sense. This upgrade brings Drop-In to the Echo and Echo Dot, letting users communicate between devices in a network. So, you are able to, tell, yell at the kids to come to dinner through the kitchen Echo.

The feature runs across the three devices. In order to take advantage of the intercom, users have to name their individual Echoes( by room likely induces the most sense) and enable the Drop-In feature via the Alexa app. Once everythings put up, the feature can be fired up by saying Alexa, call the kitchen or Alexa, drop in on the kitchen.

The system runs through household groups created during the setup process, rather than in-home Wi-Fi. That means the app can also be used to check in on loved ones from afar, for those who have children or elderly relatives or, one imagines, for more nefarious reasons. According to Amazon, the intercom ability was among its most requested features for the popular home deputy.

Its also likely to raise the ire of the people behindthe smart home intercom that apparently inspired the creation of the Echo Show in the first place.

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com

How Google could fire up its smart home play

When it was unveiled at last years I/ O, Home felt like little more than Googles attempt to cash in on the Echos success. And the intervening year hasnt been a lot to dispel that notion. The company announced a handful of additions to Home and Assistant at this years event to try to pulling even with Amazons lead, but the whole Google Home offering still feels ambling and aimless.

That Google thought it had a slam dunk with Assistant on the mobile side hasnt helped much, either. Since launching on the Pixel back in October, the voice helper still has a limited reaching. Amazon, meanwhile, has constructed the jump onto handsets by companies like HTC and Huawei, while others, including Samsung, have opted to just construct their own damned deputy in house.

Its clear Assistant is a long play for Google. The company has the technological infrastructure and machine learning capabilities to build something truly great. For now, the thing doesnt do much to distinguish itself from Alexa( unless you count annoying people with unwanted audio ads, or being annoyingly triggered by opportunistic Tv ads ), but its still in the companys best interest to get Assistant as widely distributed as possible.

Home is definitely a big piece of that puzzle, as it attempts to plant its flag in the smart home. But from the looks of industry estimations, Googles late start isnt doing it any favors. Recent analyst estimations put the company at around 23 percent of the 35 million or so devices currently out there. Amazons number is hovering around 70 percent.

Last year, Sundar Pichai described Googles aim with AI as being to build a personal Google for everyone, everywhere . But the flip side of that desire is the fact that calculating is no longer tethered to desktops and is fast becoming fragmented across all sorts of vying devices and interfaces( like Amazons Echo) so a strategic imperative here for Google is that the future of its search business depends on its algorithms remaining persistently available; within reach or earshot wherever people are, whatever network theyre use else it risks losing its hard-won status as a verb synonymous with digital search.

So while Mountain View is trying to seize on the smart home as an opportunity, consumer momentum on this front also presents an undeniable danger for it attaining Google vulnerable to a shift in calculating behaviour that favors voice assistants over traditional search. Because the best algorithm at coordinating the internet is not automatically the best( or most popular) voice assistant.

Being able to plug into a vast e-commerce marketplace, as Amazons Alexa does, and reach out to all sorts of third-party services to extend utility( as Alexa maintains doing) is probably more obviously obliging to the average person sitting on their sofa right now versus summoning up a verbal version of Google. Alexa has most of the skills right now.

And theres more heat incoming. Earlier this week, Andy Rubin-led startup Essential also announced its own plans to attack the smart home. And, next week, Apple is expected to show off its big play at WWDC, with a rumored Siri speaker. Though, Apple being Apple, the company will most likely fixate on the premium end of the market, tell with a device for audiophiles , not just control freaks. So while things are about to get tighter, Google still has some room to maneuver to grab itself a bigger chunk of the mainstream smart home market and thus a chance to reduce the strategic squeezing on its traditional search business.

OK, Google

Leverage your smart home synergies: Google, you own Nest. Why not use it to spread the Assistant gospel? Like Amazons recent partnership with Ecobee, Nest products are a no-brainer for Assistant integration and not just third-party actions. Construct the Assistant immediately into the product. Google has been attaining similar moves with its Tv and Android Wear offerings, but adding a mic array immediately into the thermostat or smoke alarm would be a simple way to place Assistant into even more homes without having to sell individual Home units.

Google, you own Nest. Why not use it to spread the Assistant gospel? Like Amazons recent partnership with Ecobee, Nest products are a no-brainer for Assistant integration and not just third-party actions. Construct the Assistant immediately into the product. Google has been attaining similar moves with its Tv and Android Wear offerings, but adding a mic array immediately into the thermostat or smoke alarm would be a simple way to place Assistant into even more homes without having to sell individual Home units. Make a smaller, cheaper Home: Another no-brainer. A Google Home Dot, if you will. Weve heard rumblings that such a device is in development for a fall launching. Without much to distinguish Assistant on the back end at the moment, Google is going to have to keep its pricing competitive. Its a hard game to play for Google, for whom hardware is often a loss leader, but if it wants to lock users into Assistant fast, its going to have to offer something at around the $50 cost phase just to level with Amazons pricing.

Another no-brainer. A Google Home Dot, if you will. Weve heard rumblings that such a device is in development for a fall launching. Without much to distinguish Assistant on the back end at the moment, Google is going to have to keep its pricing competitive. Its a hard game to play for Google, for whom hardware is often a loss leader, but if it wants to lock users into Assistant fast, its going to have to offer something at around the $50 cost phase just to level with Amazons pricing. Bundles: Better still, find a way to offer Google Home for free. For instance: a Pixel/ Home bundle. Weve also heard Google is plotting along these lines. Awarded, by most accounts, the Pixel hasnt been a runaway hit( to its implementation of sales figures ), but flinging in a free Home Dot could sweeten the bargain and drive momentum to both Google hardware divisions. The rivalry has also been offering similar bundles for a while, such as Samsung with the Galaxy S8, which threw in a free Gear VR. Bundling is also an excellent way to prime the pump by, in this instance, get a still by-no-means mainstream device into the living rooms of people who wouldnt buy a Home on its own merits and may not even have come across such a device yet.

Better still, find a way to offer Google Home for free. For instance: a Pixel/ Home bundle. Weve also heard Google is plotting along these lines. Awarded, by most accounts, the Pixel hasnt been a runaway hit( to its implementation of sales figures ), but flinging in a free Home Dot could sweeten the bargain and drive momentum to both Google hardware divisions. The rivalry has also been offering similar bundles for a while, such as Samsung with the Galaxy S8, which threw in a free Gear VR. Bundling is also an excellent way to prime the pump by, in this instance, get a still by-no-means mainstream device into the living rooms of people who wouldnt buy a Home on its own merits and may not even have come across such a device yet. Move for third-party integration: Were starting to see third parties offering up full Alexa functionality on their products, which has the potential to profoundly expand Amazons smart assistants reach. Lets be real, that isnt happening any time soon via Android Wear. Apple won the wearables category( at least for now ). So are actively involved, Google.Theres an important lesson to be learned from Amazons work with Conexant to create a mic system growth kit that attains it easier for companies to prototype and, when the time comes, develop the on-board mic hardware into a production-ready division. And while the Amazon brand clearly has big pulling power for consumers, which in turn devotes third party an incentive to plump for Alexa over Google, Googles stated aims to achieve its AI Assistant to be everywhere, helping everyone is a reminder of the extent and scale of its ambition, too. And Google is still Google. For plenty of Android users the ability to get the same AI Assistant across lots of different IoT devices should be a strong selling phase.

Amazon made landline phones trendy again

When is the last time you used your landline telephone? Chances are that your smartphone is the one and only device this is necessary. Old-fashioned telephones have been fading away from most living rooms. But it doesnt mean that landline telephones arent useful. Amazon was fully aware of that.

The company unveiled the Echo Show earlier this week, a $230 device with Amazons Alexa voice assistant, two powerful speakers as well as a camera and a touchscreen.

But dont get fooled by the showing. It runs more or less like the original Amazon Echo. If you want to play a sung, you can tell the device Alexa, play some Beach House to start streaming Beach House ballads use your favorite music streaming platform. You dont open the Spotify app on the screen.

The Echo Show isnt an Echo with a built-in Android tablet. Its an Echo with an information display. Sure, you are able to tap on it to pause the music. But your voice remains the main user interface.

Theres one thing you can do with a showing that you couldnt do before video bellows. Amazon didnt invent Skype calls. Arguably, Id even say that Apple stimulated video bellows popular again thanks to FaceTime.

But would you say you use your phone to call your family and friends more often or less often than 10 years ago? Today, its all about texting, Snapping, WhatsApping and more. Ive noticed this myself. I talk less but I share short snippets of text constantly.

This trend is so strong that it doesnt feel natural to cold call someone anymore. I rarely pick up the phone except if its my mum.

Thats why Amazon isnt reinventing the wheel. The company is simply stimulating phone calls less intimidating. Other companies like Nucleus and Insensi have worked on this, and Amazon was probably strongly inspired by them.

You can wail Alexa, bellow grandma and your grandmother will appear on the screen of the device. You know that if your grandmother is not at home she wont even get apprise, so it wont feel like youre interrupting something.

More importantly, everyone will be able to use the device, young children and elderly people included. Its much easier to buy an Echo Show and give it to the grandparents than explaining to them how to use a smartphone if they arent use one already.The Echo Show will be at the center of the living room or kitchen. Its going to bring the family together and people are going to love this thing.

Finally, theres a built-in viral loop. Amazon wanted you to buy an Echo for every home. With the Echo Dot, the message changed slightly the company thinks you need an Echo device for every room .

Now, with the Echo Show, Amazon is saying that you need to buy an Echo device for all your family members. The company even suggests that you should buy two devices at once( and save $100 ). Amazon is an infrastructure and logistics company. Before you realize it, Amazon is going to have a device in everyones living room.

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com

The touchscreen Amazon Echo could launch on Tuesday

Amazon could be about tolaunch Echo with a touchscreen as soon as tomorrow. The word comes from the WSJ citing sources familiar with the matter. The new model would feature a 7-inch touchscreen, showing their responses to verbal the issues and feature internet-based telephone calls.

Last week several sites posted images of a device they claimed to be the upcoming Echo touchscreen speaker. The reaction was mixed. Some praised the capabilities added by the touchscreen while others detonation the device, saying its ugly and seems dated. Either style, such a device with the described feature set would put Amazon in front of its chief rival Google Home.

The Echo is a fantastic device. I have four throughout my house. But the device is missing the characteristics and the lack of screen can be a limiting at times. For instance, its hard to browse music catalogs by voice. Adding a touchscreen could be helpful for some users.

The WSJ says this next Echo will be able to make telephone and video calls. And since its common to place an Echo in a central locating like someone would with a telephone adding these features could help sway some potential purchasers into purchasing the device.

Yet there are challenges with a screen not present on a headless device. App developers will now have to decide if it stimulates sense to develop a visual user interface. As Brian pointed out yesterday, third parties have always been key in Amazons strategy and its likely that will hold true with this new device, too.

With the Echo, Amazon has a commanding position in the market. A survey conducted by eMarketer says the maker of the Echo-branded speakershas 70.6 percent of all voice-enabled speaker users in the U.S. this year. Thats well ahead of Google Homes 23.8 percent and other, smaller players like Lenovo, LG, Harman Kardon, and Mattel, who combined merely account for 5.6 percent of users. And Amazon is only now getting its footing.

Amazon just released the Echo Look, revulsion of the voice deputy with a built-in webcam designed to help a person pick outclothing. Upon its joining ofthe Echo family, the Look stimulates four Echoeson the market, and if the WSJs report is true, a fifth is about to launch.

Make sure to visit: https :// techcrunch.com

Third parties have always been the key to Amazons smart home domination plans

For Amazon, hardware has always been a means to an end. From the Kindle e-reader to the Fire tablets to its TV offerings, the company has always treated the space as something of a loss leader even with its most popular offerings. Amazon has determined success in pricing devices much closer to cost than the competition something a company can only really get away with if it plans to make up for things somewhere down the road, like, say if youre in the content selling business.

The Echo line is no different, of course. The aim of the hardware hub is simple: to seed living rooms with its smart assistant and become an essential part of the connected home. The desktop-mounted devices were a first step toward getting Alexa into the world, and while the company has made it clear it isnt done with the Echo line( as evidenced by the recent launch of the Look ), its ready to let other companies do the heavy lifting.

The actual success of the Echo line took most( likely Amazon included) by surprise. The company never likes to give out exact numbers when it is necessary to hardware, but by all accounts, the products have been a massive success. Over the holidays, it noted that it had sold 9x as many Echo devices as it had the previous year, only saying that the number was in the millions .

But the next phase in Amazons master plan has been rolling out for the past year-and-a-half, as the company has not only embraced third-party hardware makers its actively engaged them. Last week, Amazon joined component company Conexant to announce the release of the AudioSmart Development Kit for Alexa Voice Service a second devkit is targeted at streamlining the process of bringing Alexa voice functionality to their devices.

The day prior, smart appliance manufacturer Ecobee announced that the Amazons smart home assistant would be a part of its products in a big route, moving forward. It would start with a new version of the companys connected thermostat built utilizing an earlier version of the Conexant dev kit. Afterward in the year, it will be bringing the functionality to connected light switches, with the semi-ominous aim of weaving the power of voice into the walls of entire households.

The thermostat marked something of a deviation from many Alexa-enabled devices before it, in that it wasnt simply the addition of an Alexa skill to an existing product. Nor was it a desk-mounted device designed to compete immediately with the Echo line. Only a few of its voice-enabled functions actually pertain to thermostat features. The other 12,000 or so essentially make the product an Echo surrogate, mutely waiting for its aftermath word.

Its proof of concept for the company that Alexa is just as good outside the Echo. More to the point, its the tip-off of a growing trend in which third-party producers help spread the Alexa gospel. Its no coincidence, of course, that Ecobee was a $35 million recipient of Amazons Alexa Fund, a VC campaign that believe[ s] experiences designed around the human voice will basically improve the way people use technology. And, you know, promoting the companys own titular assistant a little bit along the way doesnt hurt, either, right?

Amazon merrily flings out a number from RBC that puts Alexa on 128 million devices by the end of 2020( with roughly half that number sold that year ). It seems like a stretch at the current rate, but adoption certainly does appearto be snowballing a particularly impressive feat given that the fact that unlike Siri and Google Assistant, the product didnt have smartphones as a jumping off point.

Though, in recent months, the assistants success has been large enough in Northern america that a handful of smartphone markers have shunned Googles offering in favor of Amazon, which is no doubt something of a sweet revenge for a company that failed so publicly in its own attempt to launching a smart home offering.

But while Echoes will likely continue to see for some time, thanks in part to regular freshens of the line, Amazon is working on its own schemed obsolescence. The more the functionality is baked into third-party products, the less need users will have for their own standalone Echo devices. And thats perfectly fine for Amazon.

The Echo line has done its undertaking better than Amazon could have imagined, putting the company well ahead of Apple and Google with regards to penetrating the smart home. For millions of users, the Echo will be their first dip in the water of the connected home. They purchased an Echo because of the neat tricks they say on TV or the recommendation of a friend. The fact that it can control the high tech smart lights they had their eye on is merely a bonus.

Amazon has done the hard work of getting Alexa out into the world. The next couple of years, the burden of follow through will be on the many hardware partners looking to the cash in on Alexas success. And on Apple and Google, who have a lot of catching up to do.

Curated from: https :// techcrunch.com

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com