There are 20.5 people per active website, there are 43,918 people per voice app. But that’s about to change. It’s time to get yours.
The internet has enabled key communication channels: web, email, mobile, native apps, IoT devices and now, voice assistants and the underlying conversational UI. The invention and adoption of each of these channels and tools have similar stories, but no two channels have closer paths than the web and voice. And now is the time for brands (and whole new companies) to meet their customers and differentiate all at once: a rare opportunity in digital.
Juniper research counts voice assistants as the pairing of an individual user with a particular assistant and device. That means some users will have multiple assistants in use while others will have none. And as of early 2019, that count is at 3.2 billion.
Collectively, as of January 2019, there were 4.1 billion internet users in the world. And certainly, all those people are accessing websites via some device. The web channel is popular, crowded and let’s not forget, deeply part of our behavioral muscle memory.
But there was a time when it wasn’t, and that time wasn’t too long ago.
On January 1, 1993 the web browser as a tool, hadn’t been created. By the end of that January it had been. And by the end of 1994 nearly 600,000 people were downloading the free web browser, Mosaic, a month. The people downloading it were not the general public, they were enthusiasts and hobbyists.
For those who didn’t live through it, Mosaic was the predecessor to Netscape Navigator (yeah you probably don’t know that name either – it preceded Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Chrome…)
Netscape Navigator had 45 million downloads by 1996, 18 months after its own launch, capturing 80% of the market from Mosaic. Netscape Navigator introduced a popular product with features that proliferated the corporate and the personal markets.
The web browser was a significant invention and an inflection point for the then nascent internet. The website remains a crucial channel for brands; table stakes for any company, websites often being created before the product or service it represents, is complete.
Today there are 1.5 billion websites; 200 million of them considered active. And yet, in a channel this congested every company in the world has a made a primary priority in marketing and customer acquisition: a website.
Early web browser companies were not billion-dollar companies with deep R&D pockets optimizing a technology that had been decades in the making.
No, that reality is today’s connected world, with voice assistants and their proprietors: Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft & Samsung. And lest you think this is simply a western market play, consider Baidu & Alibaba out of China, challenging the familiar global brands. China is the world’s second largest voice assistant market and competition is fierce there as it is here.
In case you missed it, Voice Assistants are becoming the new browser. And if everyone is wrong, what will you have lost trying to meet your customers’ expectations? It’s a content play, and you already have that team!
Today nearly 75 million people have purchased devices whose primary purpose is to engage with voice assistants: smart speakers & smart displays – which in absentia of a voice assistant, transform to paperweights.
Additionally, Google has embedded their assistant within 1 billion devices created by hundreds of manufacturers. Amazon Alexa is embedded in devices created by 4500 manufacturers.
There is a literal conversation happening within five of the largest, most digitally influential companies on the planet, and as of the writing of this article, brands who execute now can still be counted within the first 100,000 voice experiences created.
We are talking about a channel being fought for by the largest, most resource rich corporations in the world. They have birthed hardware markets where thousands of existing and new companies are jockeying for position. And today, combined between Alex and Google (the two dominant voice marketplaces) there are 74,000 applications. That number is a large number in some ways and incredibly small in others. Regardless of your interpretation, that number is going to see a spike and the voice experiences creating the influx are being developed now. Trust me, I’m helping them do it.
This isn’t your mother’s internet, it’s your great granddaughters. And you get to help shape it.
Could you imagine having been one of the first 100,000 websites in the world?
In early web days there were naysayers in regard to the internet, not websites, the internet itself!
“The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.”
17 years later Newsweek ceased their print publication and was exclusively online.
In 2016 the UN named internet access a basic human right.
Early execution in web brought value through (what would be called) SEO, customer experience, corporate culture, operational efficiency, market position & differentiation and innovation advancement.
The opportunity exists today again, this time through an interface that is more natural to us than any medium offered before: talking, listening & seeing, all at once, i.e. a conversation.
Voice assistants offer the ability to supply relevant content on demand across a myriad of devices (not just mobile or laptop), listening to their user and responding without the burden of thumbs, typing or visual focus – though it supports those too vis a vis various devices.
Perhaps the comparison to the web is too grandiose, hmm? Well, let’s take another example. Native mobile apps have had their champions and detractors alike. Some say they are on the decline, others highlight a high usage/retention with apps whose purpose aligns to customer needs (proper attention to CX). Regardless of your position, the numbers tell us that with 1.8 million iOS apps and 700 million active iPhones there are 388 users per app in the store. With 2.1 million Android Apps and 2.3 billion phones in use this equates to 1095 users per app.
So in voice, with a market of 3.2 billion and a per app ratio of nearly 44,000, the very serious question is – what are you waiting for?
It’s fascinating to be involved in this advancement. To see what so many others are hesitant to let into their view. Whether you believe that humans are inherently lazy, or driven to purpose, or perhaps both, voice assistants are going to be a part of it.
In 10 years will conversational marketing be in the same state it is today? Of course not. This is true of any technology rooted channel, from the wooden peg to nail gun, from the horse & buggy to the airplane. It’s not a matter of ‘if technology will advance’ it’s a question of how you will keep pace with it.
 How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone
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