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The Internet of Things: Ubiquity Is Just Around The Corner
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The Internet of Things: Ubiquity Is Just Around The Corner - Executive Leadership Articles

The Internet of Things: Ubiquity Is Just Around The Corner

Executive Leadership Articles

The Internet of Things: Ubiquity Is Just Around The Corner

A new report by Adobe finds that one third of American households owns an Amazon Echo, an Apple Homepod, or a Google Home device. By the end of the holiday season, the number will approach one half.

Two holiday seasons ago, we marveled at the sudden blitz of marketing for the Echo and the buzz it generated. “What in the world is that?” seemed to be the common sentiment, but now everyone knows, and we are about to hit that point where more people own one (or one of its competitors) than don’t.

We predicted that the market would become extremely competitive shortly after Amazon purchased Whole Foods while Google partnered with Walmart, so that asking one device to order Brussels sprouts would go to the higher-end market while the same order with the other device would hit the big-box retailer.

Not only has this borne out, with 21 percent of owners using their devices to re-order frequently-purchased items, but half of them using them for product searching and shopping-list creation. And now, while Amazon still sits atop the leaderboard with Echo Dot owning 18 percent of the market and Echo accounting for 12 percent, the most popular single device is Google’s Home Mini, with 20 percent of ownership. Google Home takes another 7 percent, putting Google only three percent behind Amazon in overall share, according to a report by Strategy Analytics.

These device-retailer partnerships are part of the vast frontier for this now-prevalent technology. A nationwide electronics retailer is now offering Google Home Mini devices (in your choice of four colors!) free with the purchase of a four-pack of Tiles, those Bluetooth-enabled tracking devices you can attach to keys, wallets, purses, or other frequently misplaced objects. This means for a purchase as low as $35 and reaching up to $75, you get the tiles and the Home Mini, which regularly sells for $50.

A quick search finds similar offers on other consumer electronics. Walmart is giving away the Home Mini with the purchase of a certain brand of television, and it makes all kinds of sense if Google is looking for the kind of market dominance it enjoys in other areas. How long might it be before the voice-controlled hubs are given away with streaming music subscriptions, phone purchases, or even new service orders from internet service providers?

More than just devices for controlling IoT functionality or personal errands, the Adobe report reveals that people using these smart speakers are more comfortable using voice-activated functionality on their computers, phones, and tablet. Thirty-eight percent of people who didn’t own smart speakers increased their use of voice-activated technology but nearly twice as many used it more often if they owned smart speakers.

This predicts increasing voice-activated functionality in a way we still haven’t quite seen with touch-screen monitors on laptops and desktops. In a classic scene from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the Enterprise and her crew travel back to 1987. Scotty tries addressing a computer the way he’s most accustomed, but addressing it directly. When the computer doesn’t respond, a young man points to the keyboard in front of the monitor. Scotty says, “A keyboard? How quaint.”

If trends continue, how far are we from a time when keyboards may be obsolete, or at least not nearly as called upon as voice-activated control? Remember, there was a time when an online service could get away with no mobile app functionality. These days are gone only a few years later. Now that we are on the verge of voice-activated smart speakers in the majority of American homes, how will our everyday use of other technologies change?

 

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