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Straight Talk Consumer and Entertainment Services

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Even though consumer concerns around functionality, reliability, and privacy largely remain, penetration of voice assistants in the home has continued to rocket. In Ovum's latest Digital Consumer Insights: Smart Living survey, 33% of respondents owned a smart speaker with a voice assistant, which is a 106% increase on last year's survey results.

With such rapid uptake, other players in the connected home ecosystem are obviously asking what will be the impact of such new interfaces and who will be the big winners? Will homes become loyal to just one assistant, and if so, which one?

The impact will certainly be significant, with 48% of voice assistant users already stating that voice control has either substantially or entirely changed the way they interact with music services. Other use cases such as controlling the TV and TV content, accessing news and information, and controlling other devices in the home are also on the increase. However, there is no evidence to suggest that households will only adopt, and stick with, a single vendor. Indeed, as more third-party vendors move to supporting multiple voice assistants, Ovum expects that consumers will increasingly use multiple assistants in different use case scenarios, and will be quick to swap and change brands as they do with other platforms and services. Figure 1 shows that in 2019, 41% of smart speaker owners owned multiple types of voice assistant speaker, with 10% using a combination of Amazon and Google assistant speakers, and a further 31% using some other combination.

Figure 1: Smart speaker/display ownership by brandSmart speaker display ownership by brand

Source: Ovum's Digital Consumer Insights 2019, n=5,000 (UK, US, France, Germany, Spain)

Third-party vendors and service providers that supply products and services to the home therefore need to not only develop their roadmaps with voice assistants in mind, but also in the knowledge that multiple assistants are likely to be in the home, or that consumers may wish to change assistant during the lifecycle of their product. Ovum therefore suggests a three-step strategy:

  • Step 1: Adopt the home AI assistant platform/s that are the most popular, and have the most comprehensive developer support program, in the selected target market, in order to benefit from the marketing buzz of these increasingly popular devices.

  • Step 2: Develop solutions that work with multiple home AI platforms to create greater consumer flexibility.

  • Step 3: Through continued "skill" development and investment, ensure products and services offer the best user experience regardless of which assistant is being used.

This strategy, as well as to how to harness the growing capabilities of AI voice assistants in the home, is discussed further in Ovum's upcoming report, Road to 2023: Smart Home.

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