The Alexa Conference, presented by podcast network VoiceFirst.FM, took place this January in Chattanooga, Tenn. – home of the fastest Internet in the United States, interestingly enough. The event drew more than s 500 registered attendees, nearly tripling in size from the year before, and was supported by Amazon.
Executives, marketers, developers
Three big trends came out of The Alexa Conference that publishers of all types and sizes should be aware of:
1) Partnership over Competition
One of the aspects of the emergence of voice technology that is unique is the spirit of partnership that currently defines the landscape. Amazon and Google, both jockeying for position with their voice assistants, smart speakers
2) The Car as the Next Frontier for Voice
Bret Kinsella, editor
Amazon sold over a million preorders for its Echo Auto device, while Google Assistant is a dominant force in the American car thanks to Android Auto’s install base. Apple’s CarPlay and independent voice companies such as SoundHound (which has its Houndify assistant in a number of cars, from Mercedes to Kia to Hyundai) round out a diverse mix, as automakers figure out which partners they’re going to ally themselves with.
For publishers – whether you’re publishing audiobooks, using podcasts as marketing for existing print and digital works, or creating voice-first experiences that extend a narrative experience – you need to understand that the voice tech market in cars is growing more rapidly than in any other area. It’s worth thinking about the car, specifically, when you go to design Alexa skills, Google Home Actions, or any other voice experience.
3) Preparing for Context
The next step for voice-first technology, in general, is to become more contextual. Soon, every question you ask your Amazon Echo or Google Home will be remembered and will provide context to the voice assistant. If you asked yesterday what Stephen King’s new book is, or when you ask two weeks from now what book you should order next to read during your upcoming vacation, Alexa or Google Assistant will know you asked about Stephen King before, and use that as one of many different data points to contextually answer that question just for you. These voice assistants will begin to draw from other personal data as well – your contacts, your social media interactions, your search history, your purchasing history and more.
Yes, there’s plenty of potential for privacy violations of every imaginable sort. But there’s even greater potential for transformative experiences driven by these new, smarter computers, and their voice-first engagement with you as a user.
By Bradley Metrock
Bradley Metrock is the executive producer of The Alexa Conference. The annual event is the worldwide gathering of the Alexa development community, including executives, marketers, developers