Despite what tech makers would have us believe, it’s not a forgone conclusion that voice assistants are going to upend the mobile landscape.
Ok, maybe it is. (I mean, why wouldn’t we ultimately prefer a form of communication we’ve already been working on for the past 100,000 years?) But, at the moment, Amazon and Google seem more excited about the trend than do most consumers.
According to one recent survey, just 5% of consumers ranked new voice capabilities on their mobile wish lists, while a clear majority (62%) said they wouldn’t give up their apps for a voice assistant -- even a perfect one.
If and when a critical mass of consumers is ready to relax its thumbs, which company will be best positioned for the voice revolution?
It’s not Siri. For several years after her birth in 2011, Apple’s assistant stood unchallenged. Yet, over the past year or two, the company that Steve Jobs built seems to have squandered its early lead.
But, while Google, Microsoft and Facebook continue to invest in the space -- and Samsung prepares its big debut -- Amazon’s Alexa is running circles around the competition.
Indeed, Alexa surpassed 15,000 “skills” -- or voice-powered apps -- at the end of June, according to new analysis from Voicebot.
By contrast, Google’s voice assistant had just 378 voice apps at the end of June, while Microsoft’s Cortana had a sorry 65, per Voicebot.
Even more impressive is the rate at which Alexa is adding skills. Since the beginning of the year, Alexa’s skills have more than doubled from 7,000. In June, meanwhile, its skill set grew by 23% -- which was up from less than 10% over each of the previous three months.
It should come as no surprise that Google’s assistant excels at general search. But -- as noted by Voicebot’s Bret Kinsella -- Alexa is currently capable of performing far more specific tasks than any other assistant.
Looking ahead, it entirely possible that Google, Microsoft, and other players could rally their developer communities, and significantly boost their voice app numbers.
Maybe that’s not happening yet because -- as discussed last week -- there’s still a mint to be made in regular old apps.
Yet, with its vast resources and early lead in voice, Amazon seems pretty well positioned to rule the next era of mobile computing.