CES 2019 was only hours old, and the battle for the voice-first world was already an emerging storyline as it was at CES 2018. The main participants are Amazon and Google. Both want to provide products and services that power how people use their voices to do everything from drive cars to operate their homes. CES is their battleground to make announcements and showcase products that demonstrate their leadership. To wit:

Google Announces Impressive User Numbers

Google used CES as the occasion to announce that by the end of January, Google Assistant will be on 1 billion devices, quadruple the number from a year ago. According to information that Google shared with The Verge, most of that growth comes from the uptake of Google Assistant in Android phones. But it’s also worth noting that the numbers indicate Google eating up more smart speaker marketshare. Although Amazon still commands 63.3 percent of the smart speaker market, its share has dropped from 70.6 percent in 2017 while Google Home’s share has risen to 23.8 percent to 31 percent over the same time period. Google is still a challenger brand, but we expect that by the time you read this post, Google Assistant will be grabbing far more of the spotlight than it has at CES in years past, especially as more makers of smart home devices integrate Google Assistant. And Google is doing its part at CES by rolling out an interactive ride powered by Google Assistant.

Amazon Gets a Stronger Grip on Automotive

At CES, Amazon has also demonstrated why it leads the voice-first world. On January 7, Amazon and Telenav, a provider of connected car and location-based services, announced a relationship that will make Alexa more useful to car owners. Drivers who use the Telenav Alexa-powered navigation system will be able to use Alexa to do more functional tasks in their cars, ranging from getting directions to making restaurant reservations. Of course, Amazon has been creating a bigger presence in auto for some time. In 2018, Amazon announced Echo Auto, an in-car accessory that makes it possible for people to install Alexa in their cars themselves. Underpinning the driving experience is part of Amazon’s strategy to create a voice-based ecosystem and compete with Google, which has the advantage of integrating Google Assistant with the popular Google Maps navigation app.

As the flurry of voice-based product announcements reaches a crescendo during CES this week, we also expect that businesses may experience some bewilderment. At CES 2018, we saw the unveiling of voice-powered products such as washers and dryers as providers of home products raced to create lovable products and experiences based on voice. But voice is not a plug-and-play technology, and it’s worth noting that consumer adoption of voice for actually buying things remains low.

To create truly lovable products and experiences, businesses need a sound strategy and approach for just how to embed voice into their customers’ journeys. At Moonshot, we suggest businesses employ design sprints to develop prototypes for voice-based products in a way that mitigates cost and risk while keeping the customer at the center of the experience. In 2018, we published a white paper to show businesses how to use design sprints to develop prototypes for voice-based products. Soon we will publish an update to our guide – watch for it here. Meanwhile, contact us to get started figuring out how voice can create more lovable experiences and products for your business.

Raika Sarkett

Raika Sarkett

Practice Lead, Voice