Any discussion about voice and digital ecosystems is incomplete without discussing augmented reality, virtual reality and holograms. Voice is a great input and output mechanism on its own, but really comes into its own with synergies with other input and output devices and mechanisms.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Are Here: IMAX VR
Here is an example of voice and vr working together – last week I tried out some games at the ScotiaBank Theatre IMAX:
Image the same devices, in an office setting, enabled by voice. What you get is (but for business):
It does also highlight, another interesting question – what should be routed where? When should visuals be routed to mobile screen or TVs or AR sets. What should happen when no visual device is available?
Voice without Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality: Screen Size Zero
While the problem may seem new, it is not – developers and designers already manage for devices and screen resolutions/sizes. There is just a new screen size – size 0.
Excellent reach thanks to integration with Android and iOS devices
Access and ability to process large amount of data into servable content
With the addition of Walmart as a source, Google has added a transactional dimension to it’s ecosystem. In addition, Google has also been actively soliciting large service corporations and partnering with them to build skills for its ecosystem.
Is this enough to take on Amazon’s v-commerce operations?
It depends – is Google’s voice ecosystem a competitive offering – certainly seems so on paper. But keep in mind that Google’s mobile reach is offset with the penetration into the US market Alexa has made through the Echo and now the Echo Dot. Similarly, Amazon’s delivery service, while having its flaws, is by far one of the most advanced logistics solutions. Finally, Amazon has already integrated product sales into Alexa and can leverage it’s existing suppliers.
At the end of the day, there is space for more than one player. Customers will be won or lost based on the ability to deliver as complete an experience through their ecosystem as possible. For now, Amazon is still in the lead.
The use of the term “platform” is interesting – here he is talking about “post-smartphone” technologies, including voice search, digital assistants, IoT and VR. As discussed previously, these solutions will stack on a layer of data, accessed via AI, to provide the best services possible. And in many cases these technologies are expected to work together to deliver a solution rather than be individual platforms.
Amazon expands in India
In other international news, the Amazon Echo started shipping to India. Driven by a growing middle-class ready for new technologies and almost non-existent local competition (if you know of an company from the sub-continent working in the IoT, voice or digital assistant fields, we would love to feature them), Amazon has been heavily investing in the Indian market. As compared to news from China – which often is from competitors – this is a play to forward settle (to use a term from Civilization) the Indian market. Amazon has also expanded the skill kit and services offer to India, no doubt with approaches to large India media brands to integrate the technology.
the vast majority of the brands we buy in our lifetime qualify as low-involvement purchases
add the dangerous, disruptive ingredient of voice search and things change
Having said this, how things change depends on what actions retailers take today to shape their tomorrow. Another industry that faced similar challenges was the news publishing industry. It bought the tech companies coolaid, it opened it’s bread and butter – it’s content – to the likes of Google. It turned from a business monetized through subscriptions to one running on ads. And now it is bleeding to a slow death.
Retailers face a choice – the choice of how to embrace voice technology. Retailers have to understand what brings users to their store – and enhance the experience customers want with voice technology. Retailers have one advantage over the likes of Amazon and Google. They have personalized, localized, and targeted shopping data.
While it is not an easy road, it is an exciting one – one that will bring new players, products and strategies and reshape the industry.
On the other end are Alexa and Cortana, both powered by Bing and are looking to integrate. While Cortana has yet to find its stride, Alexa has been gained significant market share through the adoption of Echo and Echo Dot. It also powers easy to use voice shopping through Amazon – a significant easier and more tangible path to revenue than figuring out how to push ads to consumer on voice.
Changing your Default Digital Assistant or Search Engine
While it is early days, the interoperability and customization offered by each player means that consumer can still use alternate search engines with their digital assistants. This is market driven – as a provider, you want your solution available on as many platforms as possible. They just won’t come installed by default and will require a bit of effort from the customer.