A new study from Accenture finds that consumers are using their smart speakers a lot more than a year ago. According to its study, which surveyed around 22,500 consumers across 21 countries, found that 50-percent of respondents use digital voice assistants, and that is up from 42-percent just a year ago. That may not sound like a huge increase, it's only eight-percent, but given the fact that the smart speaker market has grown significantly in the past year, that means that there are a whole lot more people using their smart speakers.
The study from Accenture also found that around 93-percent of online consumers who have a stand-alone digital voice assistant (like a smart speaker, smart display, etc), expect that their choices of connected home devices will be influenced by how easy it is to connect to their digital voice assistant. The percentages get even higher for those looking to buy smartphones and connected TVs, at 97 and 96-percent respectively. This makes plenty of sense, as consumers don't want to have to figure out how to connect their device to a digital voice assistant, they want it to just be there and work when they need it too. That is the single most important obstacle that companies like Amazon, Apple and Google still need to overcome.
Stand-alone digital voice assistants are forcing us to use our smartphones less
This study also found that around 57-percent of users that have a stand-alone digital voice assistant, are using their smartphone less for different activities and tasks. This is exactly what these companies want. In fact, Apple and Google both launched features in 2018 that are aimed at making you use your smartphone less. Being able to use your voice and speak to the Google Assistant to ask a question, versus looking it up on your phone is easier, but it also means less time on your phone – which is better on the eyes. This is still only a little more than half of the population that has a stand-alone digital voice assistant, so there's still plenty that are using their phone the same amount or possibly even more. But it's a step in the right direction for many.
It seemed a bit weird to see Apple, Google and also Facebook, looking at ways to reduce the amount of time we spend on our phones, when their features were announced last summer. For Google and Facebook especially, it seemed odd, since they make their money off of ads. And if you are not on your phone and seeing ads, then they are losing money. But now it is becoming a bit clearer. The real reason here is to get you to use these digital voice assistants a bit more. Seeing as they can do a lot of the simple tasks that you would do on your phone, it means you are still using their services, you just aren't spending time on your phone – which those small displays can really hurt your eyes, so that's a good thing.
Privacy and security are still a concern for many
It's something that just won't go away. Privacy and security concerns when it comes to these devices that are always listening to you. Accenture's study found that around 41-percent of respondents are still concerned about privacy, while 40-percent are concerned about security and how the data is being used. Seeing security at just 40-percent is a bit alarming, especially with all of the revelations that we saw in 2018 regarding what information is collected by different companies, and how that data has been grossly misused. Of course, a big part of this was Facebook, who has been caught misusing our data quite a bit. But it should still give many users pause before going out and buying a new smart speaker or something else.
Privacy and security are two aspects that you can expect the big three – Amazon, Apple and Google – to really focus in on in the next year or two. Their assistants have really been growing in popularity in the past year or two, and if they want that to continue, they are going to need to address those issues. They are also going to need to be a bit more transparent when it comes to listening to us in our homes via these smart products, and how is this data being used. If it is being used to improve the product, then that is something that these companies need to voice. Seeing as that is something that most won't have much of an issue with. However, if they are using this data to target ads, or to sell to other companies (like Facebook did with Netflix, Spotify and others, even allowing them to read and delete our messages), that is where things get a bit hairy.