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Voice Assistants and the Ecommerce Connection

Voice Assistants have become a staple of smartphones and tablets today. Entire speakers have been created by Google, Apple and Amazon whose primary purpose is to control the smart home via built in voice assistants. It’s clear that they’re here to stay and to dominate the future of technology. They are the artificial intelligence revolution that we have been promised.

The Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are the main players in the game right now. Microsoft’s Cortana has not been able to make as big a splash due to the slow adoption of the Windows 10 Operating system and Samsung’s Bixby has not been able to gain significant market share either.

Apple’s Siri was introduced on the iPhone 4S in 2011 as a beta release. It was criticized initially due to unpolished features and lack of features but has gotten markedly better through the years and now has a 32% market share in the US. It is featured on every new release of iOS and has incorporated integration with third party apps like Lyft and Uber as well as most of Apple’s app suite. Siri is also terrible at figuring out accents, however it has significantly improved since the time it was released.

The Google Assistant began as Google Now on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. It was gradually upgraded and the Google Assistant was released in its full form on the first Google Pixel phone in 2016. It has proved increasingly popular, acquiring a 33% market share, and growing. Described as much more ‘conversational’ in comparison to Apple’s Siri by numerous tech reviewers, the Assistant takes advantage of Google’s home grown AI and builds a natural conversation. For example it will tell you about a certain personality (President Trump), and then tell you his height if you just follow up with ‘How tall is he?’, instead of ‘How tall is Trump?’. It is also great at understanding, or learning to understand accents.

Amazon’s Alexa has become a major player in the voice assistant market due to the popularity of its smart speakers. The Amazon Echo and Dot are the most popular smart speakers in the US; their market share is 69%. In comparison, Google Home controls 25% of the market. Alexa is geared towards Amazon web services. It has specifically been marketed to consumers to take advantage of Amazon’s suite of services like Amazon Music, Amazon Prime Memberships and of course, the Amazon marketplace. No other voice assistant is as adept at ordering items online than Alexa. Granted, Alexa can not access other online marketplaces like Alibaba or Daraz.pk as well as Amazon, but to be fair, it doesn’t need to, Amazon is big enough.

DHL estimates that 70% of millennials have already made a purchase by voice while 21.4 million smart speakers will be used in the US by 2020. Seeing the trends today, DHL estimates that 50% of all searches will be initiated through voice commands by 2020 and the size of the voice recognition market by 2019 will grow to $601 million.

The need for a conversational UI has arisen due to the myriad apps and functions available to people today. It is much faster to say ‘Play the Billboard top 10’, then go into Spotify, look up the playlist and hit play. It is much easier to say, ‘Book a 9:30 flight to Lahore’, than go through the tedious process of booking a plane ticket. Yet the technology isn’t there yet. Dozens of steps including credit card verification, privacy permissions, identity authentication, personalized preferences and customization options need to be accounted for before we let voice assistants take over. More and more applications need to be tailored to meet the needs of personalized voice assistants so the AI can learn and naturally make the process smoother. Fingerprint authentication and facial recognition has made it safer than ever to process delicate financial and personal information, yet it is still hard to imagine someone making a purchase online and the AI knowing exactly what they mean.

There is definitely opportunity in the space of Urdu Voice Assistants, which will also help overcome the accessibility and interactivity challenge for users looking for things on local websites. Traffic and business growth on Ecommerce websites are most definitely linked with how much people are able to find their way through the virtual spaces.

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