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Voice AI: The Brand New App Store Ecosystem for Entrepreneurs and Marketers A rapidly growing audience and every marketer scrambling to get on board, here's everything you need to know about Voice AI Apps

By Gaurav Mendiratta

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Last year, Gartner predicted that 30% of all web browsing will be done without a screen by 2019. More importantly, nearly 1/3rd of all searches would be voice led in 2018. Interestingly, most of these voice searches might not come from your smart phones, but from your Amazon Echo or Google Home or Apple Homepod!

Home assistants are taking the world by storm, and in the process, they're changing user behavior in a way quite similar to the way smartphones changed the way people interacted with their devices and the internet back when they first launched.

The Screenless Revolution of Voice AI

Among its competitors, Amazon's Alexa is definitely a clear leader and has the most mature offering. Alexa held a staggering market share of 70% in April 2017, followed by Google Home at 24%.

Voice AI products broke US sales records during the last holiday season and according to an estimate by emarketer, there are more than 31.2 million smart speaker devices sold to date.

As these products become more affordable, they'll become part of our cars, home appliances, and even office appliances/machinery. With that, the number of voice AI assistants could grow to over 7.5 billion by 2021, and I believe the wide range of integration opportunities with these platforms through Voice App stores make them more special than just another nifty gadget; making them something you turn to to order a pizza or book a taxi!

The rising dependency on home assistants, in general, has created a new age gold rush, one that has the savviest developers rushing to build branded Amazon Skills, Google Actions, and Voice Apps, not unlike the rush that the App Store created when it first launched.

So, what are Voice AI Apps?

Like Siri and Cortana, home assistant AI's are designed to converse with users and respond to a number of commands. These voice apps give the home assistant the ability to converse with more home devices, websites, mobile apps and other physical products.

By integrating these apps, your home assistant can tell you if it's going to be sunny or snowy, launch your favorite workout, and even read you the morning news while you sip on your coffee. It basically makes voice AI and home assistant devices a game changer for entrepreneurs and marketers, and definitely makes life a lot easier - not to mention more fun - with each new App.

Rob Pulciani, General Manager on Alexa, said in a quote to CNET, "Every skill makes Alexa smarter or more useful, [but] we can't do that by ourselves." By opening its doors to developers, Amazon has now amassed over 25,000 Skills for Alexa. Google and Apple will soon have to follow suit if they want to play catch-up.

According to market experts, 20% of brands will abandon their mobile apps by 2019. Naturally, most marketers are jumping on the voice assistant bandwagon to save themselves from the FOMO that's bound to hit hard if they don't.

Opportunities for Startups and Agencies

Several international big guns are already taking advantage of the voice led search trend, and several startups have joined in too. Although there's a ton of potential in developing voice apps, as marketers it's imperative to know where and how our brands can benefit by adding/integrating a new app to home assistant devices.

An interesting report on Designing and Building Voice Experiences said that marketers should see voice app types as:

  1. Service Oriented

  2. Data Dispensers and Calculators

  3. Novelty, Adventure, or Action Oriented

Service Oriented

These are voice apps that deliver a service to the user. Anything that makes it easier for a product or service to reach the consumer, and thereby shortening the buyer's journey as much as possible, would be considered a service-oriented voice app.

Brands that got it right

This is where the early adopters like Uber and Domino's are reaping the benefits. It's become almost second nature to book a taxi or repeat your last order of pizza just by asking your home assistant to do it for you. Sending someone flowers has also become easy peasy with the 1-800-Flowers skill.

Opportunities for Startups

Just because the big guns have their names out there already, doesn't mean there's no room for the little guy to play. Small brands too can find their voice on voice-AI apps (figuratively speaking). For B2B marketers, it could be as simple as developing a skill to help your audience find the solution that best fits their needs.

Data Dispensers and Calculator

Voice apps are a great way to apply your content marketing skills in the screenless digital world. Be it the latest from the stock market, quotes, or personal health data, by feeding your audience with information that is highly relevant to them, you keep your brand highly relevant too.

Brands that got it right

Tide is probably one of the best examples in this class. Let's face it, no one is immune to stains. By developing a skill that is a storehouse for different kinds of stains and the solutions to them as well, Tide checks all boxes in providing content that is highly relevant to their audience.

Opportunities for Startups

By focusing your brand's voice app on educating your audience, chances are that you're going to be solidified as a trusted resource.

Novelty, Adventure and Action Oriented

At the end of the day, the Echo, HomePod, or Home is an assistant. The key function being assisting. So naturally, apps that aid the user in executing particular tasks are bound to be taken up well. It could be appliance troubleshooting or sharing game/fun ideas with the family, a lot can be done with a home assistant.

Brands that got it right

Brands like Campbell's has really taken advantage of this space. A great recipe source from a trusted source is now as simple as asking for one.

Opportunities for Startups

Novelty voice apps include opportunities to amuse the user or surprise them. From sharing the latest viral story on the internet to suggesting gift options for a spouses upcoming birthday, there are several novel ideas startups can explore.

I for one am confident that with the rise of Home Assistants, modern living rooms will look and function very differently. This will bring in even more interesting opportunities for entrepreneurs and marketers. Are you planning to capitalize on this new trend? Do share your thoughts!

Gaurav Mendiratta

Founder & CEO of SocioSquares

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