Should I Build a Smart Speaker Application?

Smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo are the most recent embodiments of the next generation of digital assistants. Yet unlike any previous “digital assistant” available to the general public, smart speakers are driven by a combination of AI and conversational applications. The smart speaker is always listening, ready to connect to the Internet as soon as a “wake-word” is used, to get the answer to your questions. They can also perform certain actions, such as adding spoken items on a grocery list, or even be used to facilitate the execution of financial transactions. As such, they offer consumers a significant amount of convenience and are rising in popularity.

A growing number of companies are now looking to extend the convenience of their existing application or service to this new marketplace.  Business leaders are increasingly starting to recognize that smart speakers are not just another passing trend.

How relevant can Smart Speakers be to your business?

According to IDC Canada, more than a million Canadian households will have AI speakers by the end of this year. Yet the first smart speaker was only introduced in Canada back in July 2017. Considering these facts, the answer to the question of whether smart speakers are relevant has to be an emphatic, “Yes.”

What’s more: In 2017, a U.S. survey of almost 2,000 smart speaker owners showed that smart speakers were already beginning to replace other devices:

  • 34 percent of respondents stated their smart speaker was replacing time spent with their smartphone;
  • 30 percent stated it was replacing time spent watching TV;
  • 27 percent stated it was replacing tablet usage;
  • 26 percent stated it was replacing computer usage.

At the same time, smart speakers are becoming an important way for people to connect with brands, with 29 percent of respondents using them to research items for purchase and 44 percent using them to actually make purchases. Furthermore, an astounding 43 percent of respondents would be interested in using applications from brands or companies they follow on social media. And perhaps most telling: 65 percent wouldn’t want to return to a life without their smart speaker.

Smart Speaker Leaders and Market Data

Canada has 2 dominant platforms for smart speaker - Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. While Amazon created the category with an initial launch in the United States, Google was first to make their service available in Canada. Google has been successful at capitalizing on their first-mover advantage by gathering a dominant market share position.

There are a number of interesting data points that supports the growing endorsement of digital assistants by businesses.  Consider the following statistics:

  • According to Google, 73 percent of Canadians would like to have the ability to complete tasks by interacting with a digital assistant.
  • After Alexa was introduced in Canada in December 2017, the Echo Dot was Amazon’s top-selling product across all categories.
  • One month after Alexa was launched in Canada, the number of Amazon Alexa skills available to Canadians increased 67 times to 10,023.
  • According to USA Today, sales made through smart speakers will grow to $40 billion in the U.S. by 2022.
  • reports that the smart speaker market is currently valued at $2.68 billion. By 2023, it will reach $11.79 billion at a CAGR of 34.44 percent over the next five years.
  • IDC expects more than 30 percent of Canadian businesses to launch AI intelligent assistants within the next year, with financial services and the tech industry likely to lead the way.

Should You Build an Application for Voice Assistants?

Thanks to the added convenience smart speaker bring into their home, more and more consumers are embracing digital assistants.  And as the number of businesses introducing their service into this emerging marketplace is growing, so will the consumers’ expectation for being able engage with their preferred brands.