Sorry Siri: Research Shows Consumers Aren’t Using Voice-Controlled Assistants

eMarketer logoThere is a lot of buzz surrounding Amazon’s Echo product, a tabletop computer featuring a voice-controlled digital assistant named Alexa. Alexa will play your favorite music, get your morning news update, find out today’s weather for you, and more. All you have to do is ask Alexa.

But before Alexa, we had Siri and other voice-controlled assistants, mostly associated with our favorite smartphone. But are consumers enamored with using voice-controlled assistants? A new study from marketing company 451 Research suggests that we don’t.

See more on smartphone users embrace of voice-controlled assistants…

More and more people use their smartphones daily to search for just about everything in their lives – the nearest Italian restaurant, the best route to get to their next meeting, what the weather will be tomorrow, etc. To make their lives easier, smartphone makers developed voice-controlled assistants so that these searches could be conducted hands-free. It was a good idea, but it doesn’t appear to have been embraced by smartphone users.

The study, as reported on by eMarketer this week, was conducted in the middle of last year by 451 Research . The company surveyed 15,209 consumers and questioned them about their smartphone usage, and in particular, whether they use their voice-controlled assistant. The results were, to us at least, surprising.

Only a Minority Actually Use the Feature

Only 13% of the survey respondents say they use their voice-controlled assistant daily. About the same number (14%) say they use their voice-controlled assistant weekly, with another 10% who say they use the feature monthly.Chart - Voice-controlled usage

The largest group of respondents, 33%, say their smartphones don’t even have a voice-controlled assistant associated with it. And 17% say they have the feature, but never use it. Finally, 13% said they’ve tried it “once or twice.”

The Majority Don’t Take Advantage for Multiple Reasons

So that means a walloping 63%, or a significant majority of the survey respondents don’t use voice-controlled personal assistants…either because they don’t have one, or they have one but have never tried it, or they’ve tried it once or twice..but presumably haven’t used it since.

Table show mobile searches

This table by eMarketer shows that by the year 2020, 221 million Americans will be conducting searches via their mobile phones. That’s about 2/3rds of the entire population.

Considering that almost 55% of all Americans and about 68% of smartphone owners conduct online searches via their mobile phones, we would have expected more to take advantage of the convenience of doing this through a voice-controlled assistant. And those mobile search numbers are expected to rise to more than 66% of the U.S. population and almost 80% of smartphone users by 2020.

Perhaps as this feature’s usability improves, more users will begin to take advantage of them.

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