turn on smart speaker alexa voice assistant

Why is Voice Search the new Keyboard?

marketing Principles for Innovation


Did you hear that? It’s yourself, communicating with.. Yourself. 

Your brain didn’t type it, you “said” the words inside your head. That’s how we do it, as humans. So why communicate differently with technology that we want to increasingly assist us in our daily lives?


This smartphone and smart speaker are just two of the hundreds of millions of voice-enabled devices in the US where you can buy goods and services through voice search commands.


Well, speech isn’t easy. Ask either of my 1 ½ year old nephews. Pose the question to the woman on the train next to you who doesn’t speak English. Give the living room couch a chance to weigh in. All you’ll hear is the cat sharpening her claws, and she won’t enlighten us either. 

While speech connects billions of people around the world, there are a limited number of entities that can keep a decent dialogue going. However, this number is growing everyday thanks to accelerating technology innovation.


Hey Siri, how many voice-enabled devices are there in the US?

There are over 87 million in the US, by way of smart speakers alone, as chronicled by voicebot.ai, a leader in voice search statistics.


Smart speakers are still growing at over 30%, opening up channels of communication for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and other voice search assistants


The number of smart speakers is skyrocketing, increasing over 30% in 2019 and that isn’t even the largest category of voice-enabled devices – smartphones. Almost all new devices now have a voice activated search engine embedded in them, from smart speakers and watches, to mobile phones, cars and even doggy cameras.

Communicating through voice is simpler, faster and gets our eyes away from the increasingly addicting screens. In the philosophy of Peter Thiel, it’s at least 10x better than typing. I could’ve already answered this question if we were having a conversation, rather than tpying typing it. If you need more convincing, just consider that autocorrect corrects 26% of all typed words for English speakers.

For these reasons, smart speak adoption is forecasted to reach 50% penetration faster than any other consumer device, including the computer, radio, TV and smartphone.


Smart speaker adoption will put voice search capabilities in the homes of millions of people in the US


Ok Google, are people using voice assistants and voice search?

Not everyone, but more people are using their devices more often to make their lives easier. Many new users are starting every month, with thousands searching online every month for questions like “how to turn on voice search”, “voice search settings”, “install voice search” and “how does voice search work”.



Speech recognition accuracy is now north of 95% for all of the major technology providers. Amazon Alexa may not be able to uncover the secret to life, but she can talk you through the recipe for a fresh loaf of banana bread.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated usage of voice-operated assistants. In The Smart Audio Report by NPR and Edison, they discovered that 52% of people were using voice commands at least daily by April 1, 2020, up from 46% at the beginning of January 2020.


52% of people were using voice search commands at least daily by April 1

people are using voice search more since covid


Hey Hound, what tasks are people trying to do with voice search?

The same things in 2020 that they have been doing throughout the 3 years of voice search history. They’re listening to streaming music, asking questions, checking the weather and setting timers and alarms. Although it’s the lowest action recorded, 4.9% are already making purchases through smart speakers daily!


voice search is being used for music, questions, weather and many other activities


Companies are building voice apps that answer questions (54%), provide ancillary services (43%) and distribute content (42%) most often. However, people are still typically using the built-in functionality of the assistants rather than 3rd party voice search apps. 


voice search apps are being used to answer questions, provide services, play games


Hey Cortana, so why don’t people use voice search for everything?

Voice assistants have come a long way, but they still fail 65% of the time, according to Forrester. While .350 may get you in the Baseball Hall of Fame, it leads to more frustration than satisfaction with smart devices. Over 110 times per month, end up people searching for “voice search not working”.

Google voice search is at the head of the group, with the assistant giving the right answer 81% of the time on average in a study of 180 different questions.


Well in that case, hey Google, what’s that $40 billion elephant in my living room?

That’s voice commerce in 2022 according to OC&C Strategy Consultants.

Microsoft is also bullish on voice search ecommerce, finding that 54% of users believe that digital assistants will help them to make purchases online in the next 5 years. 40% have tried to make a purchase already.

The majority of purchases are for digital products and those less than $100, at least as of 2018, when Voicebot released their Voice Shopping Consumer Adoption Report.

For physical products, groceries (20%), entertainment (19%), electronics (17%) and clothing (8%) are the top shopped categories through voice. Given how media habits have evolved during the coronavirus pandemic, food delivery and media are likely increasing rapidly.

This is all occurring while only 44% of conversational search users believe that smart speakers will offer the best value selection of products and 61% don’t trust the devices to provide personalized selections.


Voice commerce presents a massive opportunity that is poised to move into the next phase of growth. It is available to every other person in the US, demonstrates heavy trial, increasing frequency of usage and rapidly developing technology from the largest companies in the world.

Similar to the Apple App Store and other platform technologies, voice-enabled app stores including Amazon Alexa Skills and Google Assistant Actions require supply from companies to match the demand from consumers, and both sides of the marketplace are rising on the innovation curve. 


Source: Voicebot.ai: Both consumers and marketers are in the early majority of adopting voice search capabilities

In the past 40 years, once adoption of a technology starts, it rises to omnipresence quicker than ever and old tech falls out of favor or gets reduced to specialty, rather than general usage. The below charts show penetration of the US population for innovations throughout the last 130 years.


Sorry keyboard, but I can’t wait to say good-bye.


Find out more about how OurBus launched the first voice app in bus travel.

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