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Voice Demand and the Echo— Cause or Correlation?

What caused voice first technologies to take off? Was it the result of Amazon coming out with the Echo, or was there some other factor that had caused it, such as Siri or Google Voice final getting wider consumer adoption. Could the Ubi have seeded the market with interest (doubtful, but why not self-indulge)?

If VoiceLabs prediction of 34 Million voice first devices on the market by end of 2017, it’d be good to know what was the driver behind this. Here’s what we know about the Echo launch back in 2014:

  • The Echo appeared on the front page of Amazon for at least the first week after it went up for pre-order
  • In 2014, that might translate into exposing the Echo to 18M visitors
  • The volume of sales in the first year was approximately 2.4M devices, doubling in 2016
  • Amazon had considerable marketing behind the device.
  • In 2014 — before the Echo was released — the market seemed to be primed for virtual assistants — with 40% CAGR

Yes, the demand for voice interaction was there and the quick adoption of the Echo was likely caused by this latent demand. What we can likely give credit to Echo for is seeding demand for the new form factor for voice interaction. It took educating users, perfecting far field voice, and priming hardware (at high initial costs) to get the new form factor to take off.

So, Amazon benefitted from Google seeding market interest for virtual assistants. Now, Google benefits from Amazon seeding the market for voice hardware.

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