Amazon Echo and Google Home Face App Retention Problem

April 5, 2017

Amazon Echo and Google Home are the most popular voice-activated speakers on the home automation market. Both are well known for their voice control features and their ability to integrate with other smart devices. Amazon clearly demonstrated the Echo’s popularity in 2016 when Amazon shipped more than 6.5 million Echo devices. So, you would think that people would download and consistently use third party apps meant for the two devices, but you would be wrong.

App Retention

VoiceLabs, a startup in the automation industry, released a report that showed that there is only a 3% chance those who download third-party apps meant for Amazon Echo or Google Home continue using them after two weeks. For comparison, and to weigh the extent of this issue, iOS and Android apps have retention rates of 11% and 13% respectively, one week after download.

Of the more than 7,000 available skills or voice apps for Alexa, only 31% have one or more customer reviews. In other words, very few people that have these apps use them often enough. Adams Marchick, VoiceLabs co-founder, indicated in an interview that there are many voice apps available, but a majority of them are zombie apps. The point here is that Amazon Echo users may not be taking full advantage of the ecosystem of skills or apps created for the home assistants. This news is awful for companies like Spotify, BMW, and others that have recently updated their software to be compatible with these smart speakers.

Too Much of a Pain?

Most Amazon Echo and Google Home users ignore these apps and pay more attention to off-the-shelf actions like reading audio-books, controlling lights, and streaming music. These are all good uses for the smart speakers. However, it does not do anything for developers interested in creating new software that will lead to new revenue streams. The lack of popularity of these apps may be because of the specific voice control formulas created for these devices.

For instance, to order an Uber on Amazon Echo, you have to say “Alexa, ask Uber to request a ride.” If you fail to structure your voice command in that exact manner, you will not get the response you want from Amazon Echo. These very rigid formulas make your voice control experience seem like a chore (like washing dishes). People want to have a conversation with their automated homes, not bark out clinical commands to their smart speakers.

Apart from that, there is just too many third-party apps, and most of them are not high-quality apps. No one wants to clutter their smartphones or tablets with apps they may not even use. They would much rather stick with using the simpler Amazon Echo speaker features than try to memorize voice control formulas. Additionally, many third-party apps can scare away technophobes.

Predictions for the Future

According to Marchick, the voice apps that allow people to communicate with family or friends through devices, or connect to social network contacts will gain more popularity in the future. Demand for voice control devices will continue rising. Developers will need to create apps that make a user’s experience more fulfilling.

VoiceLabs predicts that more than 23 million voice devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo will ship in 2017. The VoiceLabs startup provides Voice Experience Analytics, mostly for Amazon Alexa and Google Home developers. It has worked with hundreds of voice developers and has also partnered with Amazon and Google. Marchick, who is the founder of the startup, is the former CEO of the marketing software Kahuna.

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