What’s the latest trend in technology? There are many, but if Amazon is to be believed, the biggest among them all is the smart speaker craze. You know the ones. Amazon Echo and Alexa, Google Home and Assistant, and, uh well… there may be others but this segment is barely two years old, Apple has yet to make an entry, but already the trends are obvious.
You’re using your smartphone less if you have Amazon Echo and Alexa. That’s the gist of a recent Accenture survey somewhat summed up by Chris Matyszczyk.
The survey examined human feelings around several new areas of technology. One question, however, asked whether those who had bought smart speakers were using their phones for fewer activities. Stunningly, 66 percent of the 2,271 people who answered this question agreed they were or strongly agreed.
Bad news for Samsung, Apple, and other smartphone or gadget makers that do not have an Echo and Alexa equivalent, right? Right?
64 percent said they used phones less for entertainment services, 58 percent said they made fewer online purchases on their phones, and 56 percent said they used their phones less for general searches.
Sounds ominous? Is it? Maybe.
Remember Mark Twain? Well, he attributed ‘Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics‘ to Benjamin Disraeli, but you get the idea.
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics
Before you or anyone else jumps to a conclusion that Apple and the iPhone are doomed because Amazon’s Echo and Alexa are the cat’s meow of modern technology, let’s look at the marketplace, track down some of the aforementioned statistics, and mash it all up with some common sense and a skeptical perspective.
First, nobody knows how big the home smart speaker technology craze is, but I don’t see anyone throwing away their smartphones because Alexa can tell you the weather when asked. So can Siri. And Cortana. And Bixby. And Assistant. This nascent technology market segment may have some legs and it may be growing, but just ask around– how many of your friends have and use Echo and Alexa, and, have started to use their iPhones or Android smartphones less?
Second, the gist of the survey results is percentages– not hard numbers, and the few numbers available are less about success than a trend.
Research suggests there are up to 19 million Amazon Echos already out there. Accenture projects that by the end of this year, 37 percent of US households will have at least one smart speaker.
The U.S. has about 125-million households and only a portion of the Amazon Echos are sold in the U.S. (probably the lion’s share) but by those projections, almost 50-million U.S. households will have an Echo or competitor by the end of 2018. Does that kind of growth seem plausible?
Did those in the survey cut back on their smartphones by any particular number, percentage, or time? Nobody knows. But if I used to ask Siri about the weather or traffic, and I asked Echo and Alexa the same question– just once– then I’ve used my iPhone less, and that fits the survey results.
Most research says Apple has sold around 30-million Watch models in the past few years, a product category which is considered by critics and market analysts as a failure, yet, with barely half the number of sales, Amazon’s far less expensive Echo product is a big hit.
What’s wrong with that picture?
The same thing that is wrong with lies, damned lies, and statistics. Statistics are numbers and easily twisted, turned, convoluted, and shaped into any perspective you want to build or follow a narrative.
Amazon Echo is a thing and isn’t going away anytime soon, but similar products from major players have launched or are on the way, and any product I use that does what my iPhone does– like Watch– means I use my iPhone less.
It’s possible that a similar survey could say something on the order of, “87-percent of iPhone users with Watch use their phones less.” That doesn’t seem like bad news for Apple.