Seven Billion Voice Assistant Capable Devices in Use by 2020

Research company IHS Markit highlights that mobile platforms will dominate the assistant installed base

The growing smart home market will see voice becoming the key interface, according to new research from IHS Markit.

Dinesh Kithany, IHS Markit’s Senior Principal Analyst for home appliances, technology, media and telecom; said: “Assistants are attracting attention from all types of company, but strategies can be very different.


“While the digital assistants sector is gaining momentum, with a range of companies deploying digital assistants with very different core business models; voice control and verification services are used by a much broader set of companies.”
He added that digital assistant strategies raise important questions for industry players including device makers, service providers and operators and messaging and social apps.
Kithany added that service providers must balance privacy concerns. Concerns remain with voice assistants – popular questions include is the device always listening, how is data being used and how secure are devices from hackers.

Kithany said that assistants will not generate much direct revenue, but they are part of a wider platform battle.
“There will be more than seven billion voice assistant capable devices in use by 2020,” he said, “Google’s roll-out of Assistant to all recent Android devices ensures that it will have the largest addressable installed base of devices by the end of 2017.”

Apple, Kithany said, will take second place because of the strong installed base of iOS smartphones and tablets, as well as the support for Siri on other devices such as recent Mac computers, Apple TV and Watch.
Addressing smart speakers, Kithany said that this category is driving voice assistants in the home.
“Google will eventually take smart speaker lead,” Kithany said. “Amazon has had an early lead with Alexa Skills Kit, but the launch of the Google Assistant SDK should see it gain momentum from late 2017 onwards.
“Prices will fall as platform competition increases and Alexa integration spreads across more devices”.

Photo: Dinesh Kithany, Senior Principal Analyst, IHS Markit