Virtual assistants have been the talk of the tech world for the past year – but is it just industry buzz, or are the likes of Alexa genuinely taking hold in the mainstream? That's the question Verto Analytics is trying to answer with its latest report, tracking usage of assistants between May 2016 and 2017.
There has been an eight per cent increase in monthly unique users of all the assistants added together, up to 93.6m – though it's worth noting that this might be larger than the actual total, as there's likely some crossover between the various assistants.
Despite Alexa being the new poster girl for the technology, the undisputed queen of virtual assistants is still Siri, with 41.4m monthly users to Alexa's 2.6m. However, Siri's user numbers are declining – down 15 per cent year-on-year – while Alexa's have jumped by 225 per cent.
It's a similar picture when it comes to individual usage of these assistants. The time that users spend with Siri is also falling – down from 39 minutes per month to 14 minutes – driven by a steep drop in monthly sessions, from 14 to just five. Meanwhile, monthly time with Alexa has more than doubled, to 18 minutes, and the number of session has nearly tripled, to 16.
Of course, it's not just Apple and Amazon playing in this space. Samsung actually has the second biggest assistant in S Voice (23.2m monthly users) though this number is dropping – and S Voice is set to soon be replaced with Bixby.
Like Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana still has a small userbase – 700,000 monthly users – but it's on the rise.
Google saw the biggest growth, not least because of the breadth of its products which fall under the virtual assistant umbrella: Google Now, Allo, Home, and Text-to-Speech. The latter performed best, more than doubling its monthly users to 19.8m in May 2017.