In the next five years, there’s a very good chance someone will be able to walk into a house and talk to a virtual assistant.
A new study from Juniper Research indicates that by 2022, smart speakers such as the Google Home, Amazon Alexa or the Sonos One will be in 70 million U.S. homes, reaching 55 per cent of total households in the country. The total amount of installed virtual assistants in American homes will be upwards of 175 million.
In terms of voice assistant devices across all platforms, from cars to TVs to smartphones, Juniper found that there will be 870 million connected devices by 2022, a 95 per cent increase from the estimated 450 million in 2017.
The study went on to state that the ability to pass information between connected smart devices will be integral for these virtual assistants in the future, but despite the rising number of smart home devices, phones will still greatly outnumber the number of Homes or Alexas. Close to five billion smartphones will be in use by 2022, according to Juniper.
The research found a growing trend for brand agnosticism when it comes to virtual assistants, despite how unwieldy the relationships may be. Late this summer Amazon and Microsoft announced a partnership between Alexa and Cortana, and Juniper notes that similar relationships should be forged between smart assistant providers.
As the adoption of smart assistants in the home grows, the uncertainty behind end-user monetization will clear up. Right now, advertising is hardly used at all on the platforms, and the study believes that ads could become the best revenue source for virtual assistants. Ad spending in total will reach close to $19 billion by 2022, so incorporating it is a natural pathway.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t pitfalls.
“Voice-based interaction presents less options than other forms of advertising, meaning less adverts are possible”, notes Juniper research author James Moar. “Not all voice interactions are product searches, meaning advertisers will need to adjust their strategies to build a brand’s voice strategy around information provision as well as sales.”
A recent Consumer Intelligence Research Partners report found that Amazon holds a 76 per cent market share of smart home assistants with its Echo, while Google Home trails behind.