Voice tech overview (UK)

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01
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Part
01

Voice Tech - UK Usage Numbers

The research below provides the details of estimated usage details of voice/virtual assistants like Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple's Siri, among many other, in the UK. The usage details have been estimated on the monthly, as well as per day basis for the current scenario. To predict the future use of these devices, an estimated range has been calculated with relevant assumptions. The detailed analysis of the research is presented below.

METHODOLOGY

After extensive research through various articles, smartphone websites, blogs, and many other sources, no direct information was found regarding the current, as well as the future number of per day interactions using voice and virtual assistants in the UK. However, many indirect sources have been used to triangulate the information of current usage, in terms of per month and per day use of the voice-activated devices, in the UK. Despite a thorough research, no future usage details of such devices could be found. This is because most of the available data is in the form of survey reports, so it likely a difficult task to predict the future use of these devices simply on the basis of the current usage data. Many sources, along with a paid report, however, were found that predicts the future usage details of voice-activated devices in the UK. Additionally, the total number of voice-activated devices that are currently being sold, and are likely to be sold in next five years in the UK, has been successfully estimated using triangulation of the available information. A deep dive into the research is presented below.

USAGE OF VOICE-TECH IN SMARTPHONES (Triangulation)

According to a report by Mindshare published in December 2017, "the UK lags behind the US, Germany, and Spain in voice tech usage." The survey suggests that only 37% of UK smartphone owners use voice tech in their devices at least once a month, 23% use them once or twice a month, 28% have used them once or twice, and 15% haven't used them.
According to Worldometers, the current population of the UK is 66,573,504.
According to Statista, in 2018, the percentage of smartphone users in the UK is estimated to be 73.12% of its total population.
Using the data point stated above, the total population of smartphone users in the UK in 2018 can be estimated to be 48,678,546.
(66,573,504 X 0.7312 = 48,678,546)
Therefore, by using all the data points stated above, we can estimate:
The total population of UK smartphone users who use voice tech in their devices at least once a month can be estimated to be 18,011,062.
(48,678,546 X 0.37 = 18,011,062)
The total population of UK smartphone users who use voice tech in their devices once or twice a month can be estimated to be 11,196,065.
(48,678,546 X 0.23 = 11,196,065)
The total population of UK smartphone users who have used voice tech in their devices only once or twice can be estimated to be 13,629,993.
(48,678,546 X 0.28 = 13,629,993)
The total population of UK smartphone users who haven't ever used voice tech in their devices can be estimated to be 73,01,781.
(48,678,546 X 0.15 = 73,01,781)

PER DAY USAGE OF SMART SPEAKERS (Triangulation)

According to an article in Evening Standard in September 2016, one in 10 UK households has a smart speaker like Amazon's Alexa or Google Home.
According to Office of Statistics UK, in 2017 the total number of households in the UK was 27.2 million.
Therefore, the total number of households in the UK having a smart speaker is estimated to be 2.72 million.
(27,200,000 X 0.10 = 2,720,000)
Moreover, according to a survey report by IFTTT, in April 2017, "60% of smart speakers owners (Amazon's Alexa, Google Home) use them at least four times per day and 29% use them seven times per day."
The resulting triangulations using all the data points mentioned above are presented below.
The total number of UK-based smart speaker owners that use them at least four times per day can be estimated to be 1,632,000.
(2,720,000 X 0.60 = 1,632,000)
Moreover, the total number of UK-based smart speaker owners that use them seven times per day can be estimated to be 788,800.
(2,720,000 X 0.29 = 788,800)

FUTURE USAGE OF VOICE-ACTIVATED SMARTPHONES

According to Mintel's Digital Trends UK 2017 Report, "62% of Brits say they are using or would be happy to use voice commands to control technology devices in the future." Information regarding per day usage of voice tech devices in the future, however, could not be found.
According to Evening Standard, in 2017, the shopping of voice-activated devices in the UK stood at £200 million ($278,916,048) and it is expected to touch the mark of £3.5 billion ($4,881,030,851) in next five years.
According to The Guardian, the cheapest smartphone in the UK is available at £30 ($41.8392). According to The Week, the most expensive phone in the UK is Apple X, which has an installed voice assistant Siri in it, is available at £999 ($1,393.27).
The total number of voice-activated devices that are currently being sold in the UK, lies between an estimated range of 200,200 and 6,666,667.
(Lower Limit: 200,000,000 / 999 = 200,200;
Upper Limit: 200,000,000 / 30 = 6,666,667)
Moreover, the total number of voice-activated devices that are expected to be sold in the UK in next five years, lies between an estimated range of 3,503,504 and 116,666,666.
(Lower Limit: 3,500,000,000 / 999 = 3,503,504;
Upper Limit: 3,500,000,000 / 30 = 116,666,666)
Note: To calculate the lower limit of the current and the future number of voice-activated devices sold in the UK, it has been assumed that all devices sold include Apple X. Similarly, to calculate the higher limit it has been assumed that all voice-activated devices sold include the cheapest smartphone in the UK.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, about 1.8 million smartphone users in the UK use voice tech in their devices at least once a month. Additionally, about 1.6 million smart speaker owners in the UK use these devices for at least four times a day. Moreover, in next five years, the total number of voice-activated devices that are expected to be sold in the UK, lies between an estimated range of 3,503,504 and 116,666,666.
Part
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Part
02

Voice Tech - UK Overview

Voice tech is used in the UK for a variety of purposes, including action-based searches, such as product purchases. Future uses are likely to be focused on the maturation of the technology and its ability to handle more complex requests, along with e-commerce and smarter virtual assistants. However, data privacy concerns and the accuracy of search results are current barriers to adoption.

Current and future uses

Voice assistant software is becoming increasingly used in the UK, with around 37% of people using some form of voice tech, and 22% of people using voice tech on their mobile phones. Global revenues from dedicated voice tech devices, like the Amazon Echo, are expected to grow from 1.9 billion GBP in 2017 to more than 7.5 billion GBP by 2022. However, despite 2.7 million households having either a Google Home or Amazon Alexa device, the UK still lags behind other markets.

A 2016 Statista report outlined the main usages of voice tech in the UK. They found that 11% of people surveyed use voice tech to search for general information, 10% reported using it for amusement purposes, 10% for navigation, 9% to get weather updates, 6% for calendar entries, and 5% for location-based search.

Searching for information about products is also a common use case for voice tech. As voice tech gets more advanced, search queries are trending towards being more action-oriented, with 30 times more voice searches than typed searches aimed at provoking direct actions rather than general search. In the future, this will allow companies like Amazon and Google, which already have integrated retail services, to further solidify the importance of voice tech in their operations. Brands are also able to give location-based results and calls to action through voice tech, potentially increasing customer loyalty with elements like voice-based reordering.

Other potential uses include voice-activated televisions and AI-based personal assistants. The adoption of natural language processing, which aims to replicate human speech patterns, is further driving this trend, as more natural conversations will ease the use of voice technology.

Globally, people who have dedicated voice technology in their homes have been using their smartphones less for applications where voice tech may be more useful. For example, a recent Accenture report found that more than half of consumers use smartphones less in the home for online purchasing and general information searches.

Voice search also presents a challenge to traditional visual marketing, and brands must keep up and adapt how they market their products to be able to compete. For example, within the next three years, around 40% of people are expected to prefer using a voice assistant to a website, up from about 24% today.

Barriers to use

Despite the usefulness of voice technology, barriers to adoption do exist. For example, complex tasks requiring manual work and creativity are still beyond the grasp of most current AI-based voice tech. Privacy concerns also rate highly among UK users of voice tech, with 61% of consumers stating that they didn't want to give companies additional information, and 43% saying they were concerned about the ability of the devices to eavesdrop on their conversations.

Other barriers include the speed and accuracy of current voice technology, with 57% of people stating that the ability to recognize more complex commands would increase their usage.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while voice technology in the UK is lagging behind other nations, adoption is growing for a variety of use cases. Barriers to usage include data privacy concerns and the current accuracy of the results; however, future improvements in technology are likely to alleviate the latter concern. Voice assistants will likely become better integrated with e-commerce solutions and be adopted by more users for a range of tasks.
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