Indians make more use of voice-activated tech like Siri and Alexa than peers in Asia Pacific

Adoption of voice-activated technology is rising across Asia Pacific, says a 60-page white paper published by iProspect. Here are key takeaways.

By

Indians make more use of voice-activated tech like Siri and Alexa than peers in Asia Pacific

The adoption of voice-activated technology is on the rise in the Asia Pacific region (APAC), scaling fast across the mobile population, says a report by US business performance agency iProspect. It surveyed over 1,800 smartphone owners from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, and Japan.

The report revealed that 62% of respondents across APAC have used voice-activated technology in the last six months. India is the most friendly towards it (82%), followed by China (77%). Japan came in last (40%). Of all respondents, 21% have never used voice-activated technology; 6% have used it at some point but not in the last six months, and the remaining 11% reported that they are unaware.

India, China, and Indonesia were found to experience ‘dynamic growth’, while Australia, Singapore, and Japan had only ‘conservative growth’, according to the study. Dynamic growth markets are home to early adopters interested in trying and promoting the technology, while conservative growth markets have more skeptics who feel that current voice recognition technologies are not up to their standards, which result in slower adoption rates.

Voice-activated technology is especially popular among smart home devices and their respective virtual assistants, including Amazon Echo and Alexa, Google Home and Google Assistant, Alibaba’s Tmall Genie, and Xiaomi’s Xiao Ai.

Across markets, voice-activated technology is used for varying reasons. Chinese users not only tend to use voice-activated technology to control personal assistants like Siri to get directions or buy goods; they also use it for personal entertainment like asking for a joke, for example. Australian users, on the other hand, see more value in using voice-activated technology in hands-free moments, like when they are exercising or driving.

“Brands who aren’t reacting to this burgeoning technology risk becoming invisible sooner than they think across key customer touch points,” said Joanna Catalano, CEO of iProspect Asia Pacific in a press release that accompanied the report.

Here are more insights into each of the six markets:

China:

  • 77% of respondents in China have used voice-activated technology in the last six months.
  • 42% of current users in China use voice-activated technology daily. More than half of those who do not currently use voice-activated technology intend to try it in the next year.
  • Chinese users might be using voice-activated technology to save time. A joint study by Baidu, Stanford University, and the University of Washington showed that saying Mandarin words takes less time than typing them. Chinese are already doing this with voice messages on WeChat, instead of text.
  • Out of those who currently use voice-activated technology, 26% have used it to “make a purchase or book a service”.
  • Personal entertainment and humour also draw many to use voice-activated technology. Choices include Alibaba’s Tmall Genie, Xiaomi’s Xiao Ai speaker, and iPhone’s Siri.

India:

  • 82% of respondents in India have used voice-activated technology in the last six months.
  • 51% of current users in India use voice-activated technology daily. Most of those who do not currently use voice-activated technology intend to try it in the next year.
  • 31% of current users have used voice-activated technology to “make a purchase or book a service”.
  • The ability to multi-task and use time more efficiently emerged as the two top reasons for using voice activated technology.
  • Perception was also found to be important to users in India, with 46% using voice because it makes them feel cool and 54% using voice because they feel it is in the next technological revolution.
  • A third of non-users are worried of the public’s perception of people who use such technology, worried that it might make them look ‘lazy’ or that it will embarrass them. However, this is seen as a non-issue once voice-activated technology gains mass acceptance.

Indonesia:

  • 62% of respondents in Indonesia have used voice-activated technology in the last six months.
  • 25% of current users in Indonesia use voice-activated technology daily. Non-users tend to lean toward not trying out voice-activated technology in the next year.
  • 14% of current users have used voice-activated technology to “make a purchase or book a service”.
  • 62% of current users surf the web with voice-activated technology. As opposed to searching the web for a plethora of answers to a single query, users surfing the web using voice-activated technology may at times only get one result. This can potentially make or break a brand’s marketing strategy.

Australia:

  • 57% of respondents in Australia have used voice-activated technology in the last six months.
  • 14% of current users in Australia use voice-activated technology daily. Around half of those who do not currently use voice-activated technology intend to try it in the next year.
  • 11% of current users have used voice-activated technology to “make a purchase or book a service”.
  • 42% of current users last used voice-activated technology to search for something (like the weather) or connect to another application (like music). Users also see the value of ‘hands-free moments’, like at the gym or while driving, where voice-activated technology can truly shine.
  • More than half non-users perceive the act of typing to be easier than using voice-activated technology. This has to do with inaccurate processing of speech.

Japan:

  • 40% of respondents in Japan have used voice-activated technology in the last six months.
  • 14% of current users in Japan use voice-activated technology daily. Less than one-third of those who do not currently use voice-activated technology intend to try it in the next year.
  • 11% of current users have used voice-activated technology to “make a purchase or book a service”.
  • There is an opportunity within Japanese consumers’ ‘private moments’ like at home or in the car. Only 26% of current users among those surveyed use voice to operate smart home devices, but the smart home market is expected to be US$5 billion by 2024.
  • 30% of smartphone users surveyed have not tried voice-activated technology. This has to do with a public perception of bothering others in public; talking on the phone in public spaces, like on the train, is associated with being rude in Japan, according to the country’s tourism board in 2016.

Singapore:

  • 55% of respondents in Singapore have used voice-activated technology in the last six months.
  • 14% of current users in Singapore use voice-activated technology daily. More than half of those who do not currently use voice-activated technology intend to try it in the next year.
  • 16% of current users have used voice-activated technology to “make a purchase or book a service”.
  • While Singaporeans are comfortable with using voice-activated technology, both in public or in private, non-users do simply don’t see how voice-activated technology would lead to a more convenient experience or productive life.

Editor: Nadine Freischlad