Alexa And Siri Chase Voice -- But Brits Just Want The Heat Turned Up

Alexa may have made all the headlines for her unprompted cackling laughter this week, but it might be Google's Nest that has the last laugh. It turns out that the big tech companies are barking up the wrong tree when it comes to smart speakers that listen to our every word.

Judging from the latest research from payments provider Judopay, people are twice as likely to want to buy a single-use home device such as an automated heating system as they are to want a speaker-based assistant, such as Google Home, Apple HomePod or Amazon's Alexa. In numbers that means just 17% are actively interested in buying one of the latter, while 35% would have in mind something like a Nest device to turn on the heating before they get home.

Not surprisingly, cost is a big issue, and it would appear that people are OK with a device having a single, useful purpose -- particularly one that saves money, such as turning the heating or home lights on or off as required.

The other major use for a smart-home tech would be payments, for two in three men and just over half of women. We may have to caution that a payment provider might be looking to highlight its services here -- and that is the point of the research -- but it does actually make sense that people might want to be able to pay for things without firing up the laptop or logging on to an app.

However, there is a little more appetite for this on a smart TV than a small speaker in the living room, presumably because people are understandably concerned about making payments over a speaker where they don't visually see what they are paying for. Presumably, this concern will be alleviated by the next generation of speakers, which are likely to follow the lead of the Echo Show and incorporate a screen. 

So, for now, it seems pretty clear that people want a device they can adjust their heating with -- maybe the lights. These serve a very practical purpose, which asks Alexa to tell you a joke or play some generic music, because you can't remember the artist's name, or their latest album.

Nothing the speaker-based voice assistants do right now is unique. They just save a moment or two of hunting around on Spotify or a news or weather service.

From Brits the message is clear -- stop the cackling, stop telling us you don't know who that artist is we're trying to remember the name of and get the heat turned up. It's not quite spring yet. 

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