Report: Voice assistants in use to triple to 8 billion by 2023

The use of voice assistants is set to triple over the next few years, according to a new forecast from the U.K.-based analysts at Juniper Research. The firm estimates there will be 8 billion digital voice assistants in use by 2023, up from the 2.5 billion assistants in use at the end of 2018.

The majority of those assistants will live on smartphones, where Google Assistant and Siri offer voice assistants to Android and iOS users, respectively.

In fact, Google already announced its voice assistant would be enabled on a billion devices as of last month, thanks to its integration with Android. Meanwhile, Amazon’s Alexa — which still primarily lives on smart speakers like Echo — has reached more than 100 million devices.

Juniper, however, predicts that the fastest-growing category for voice over the next several years will not be smart speakers. It will be smart TVs.

The firm expects the smart TV voice assistant category to grow by 121.3 percent (CAGR) over the next five years, while smart speakers will grow by 41.3 percent. Wearables will also play a significant role, with 40.2 percent growth, the study found.

Alexa is already the market leader on smart speakers, but in the years ahead it will be challenged by Chinese companies rolling out their own smart devices, the report says.

Also of note, the report challenges the belief that smart speakers aren’t being used for commerce. Instead, it says that voice commerce will grow substantially to reach more than $80 billion per year by 2023. However, there’s a twist to its findings.

Its “voice commerce” figure includes money transfer and purchases of digital goods alongside voice commerce’s use for more traditional purchases. And it doesn’t expect physical purchases to account for the bigger chunk of that $80 billion.

“We expect the majority of voice commerce to be digital purchases, until digital assistants offer truly seamless cross-platform experiences” said research author James Moar, in a statement about the new study. “Connected TVs and smart displays are vital here, as they can provide a visual context that is lacking in smart speakers.”

It’s worth noting, too, that Juniper believes the rise of digital assistants will negatively affect the global mobile app market. Specifically, it says that as consumer demand for multi-platform assistants increases, standalone apps for smartphones and tablets made by independent developers will decline. This will come about because many of the simpler interactions we use apps for today will become outsourced to voice assistants. And this, in turn, will also reduce our screen time.

In addition, there are early indications that smart speakers are becoming a part of users’ daily routines in ways that voice assistants on other platforms are not. This will lead to increased demand for voice-only interactions in the future, the firm says.