Voice tech is a topic that’s about as hot as any in the tech and marketing worlds.

And, for good reason in many ways. Consider the facts.

We know voice tech is growing–24 MILLION speakers are projected to ship in 2017. That’s compared with just 6 million shipped in all of 2016. And, keep in mind, three years ago, these things didn’t exist!

We know more skills are being added all the time–in fact, there are now more than 15,000 skills people can use. Um, that’s a LOT.

And, we’re on the cusp of another holiday season where Amazon Echo Dots (now just $30-40) and Google Home devices will be a popular holiday gift once again–so, those “devices in home” numbers are sure to grow once again.

But, the big question with all this voice tech isn’t necessarily how many devices are in homes. It’s “what are people actually doing with these darn things?” Because, really, that’s what we as marketers care about.

And, the answer to that question is surprisingly revealing.

According to recent statistics, here’s a run-down of the top 8 things people are using voice tech for in their homes:

1 — Setting a timer (85%)

2 — Playing a song (82%)

3 — Reading the news (66%)

4 — Setting alarms (64%)

5 — Checking the time (62%)

6 — Telling a joke (60%)

7 — Controlling lights (46%)

8 — Adds to shopping list (45%)

So, just to recap, of the top 8 things people do with their voice tech devices, only ONE has anything remotely to do with most brands who might jump into this space.


And, it’s the last one on the list!

The others are a smattering of mundane to-dos that reflect our lives. Entertaining ourselves. Organizing bedtime. Planning.

And, it gets worse–for brands, at least.

According to a Recode article from earlier this year, “69 percent of the 7,000-plus Alexa “Skills” have zero or one customer review, signaling low usage.”

And, more importantly: “When developers for Alexa and its competitor, Google Assistant, do get someone to enable a voice app, there’s only a 3 percent chance, on average, that the person will be an active user by week 2.”

Essentially, most people are using voice tech to play songs, organize their lives and MAYBE orchestrate smart home devices.

And that’s it. Nothing more.

That’s the reality of voice tech right now in 2017.

Now, could that change in the years ahead? No question. I’m sure Amazon and Google are hard at work on how they can spur more interaction and engagement from users. And, to be honest, I have few doubts they will figure that out…eventually.

But, as it stands right now in 2017 (and, most likely, in 2018), voice tech isn’t a dominant channel. Heck, it’s really not even an emerging channel given the data above.

Let’s all recognize voice tech for what it is. An interesting technology that most people bought to experiment with (or, received as a gift last holiday season) and may have used a few times and gave up on it.

That seems to be what the stats tell us so far, right?