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Since the launch of Siri (and arguably much longer), everyone has fantasized of the day when we would all be using voice assistants for nearly every task in our day-to-day lives. Based on the latest statistics from the past year, that day has come.

From Alexa to smart home appliances, modern consumers are finding themselves speaking to their devices more and more every day.

Of course, we haven’t quite hit the point where voice search has become as completely ubiquitous as using our smartphones for online tasks, but 2019 certainly marked a year when voice search devices went from a novelty to an everyday tool.

Voice Search is The Second Choice for Mobile Search

Remember how I said using voice assistants isn’t quite as common as using the mobile browsers on our smartphones? It isn’t far behind.

Data from early 2019 gathered by Perficient Digital show that voice search is the number two choice for making mobile searches, even above the built-in search box on most devices.

  1. Mobile browser
  2. Voice search
  3. Phone’s search box/window
  4. Search app
  5. Text a friend

Almost Half of People Use Voice Search

Similar findings in July from Adobe showed that nearly half of all consumers reported using voice search for “general web searches”.

Notably, the vast majority of respondents (85%) say they use their voice search tools directly from their smartphone, while only 39% reported using smart speakers.

Quick Answers are the Main Use For Voice Search

Out of all the ways people use their smartphones, the leading motivations are largely focused on taking immediate actionespecially with regards to shopping:

  1. Searching for a quick fact — 68%
  2. Asking for directions — 65%
  3. Searching for a business — 47%
  4. Researching a product or service — 44%t
  5. Making a shopping list — 39%

At Least 50 Million Homes Have Smart Speakers

Trying to project exactly how many smart speakers are in U.S. homes has been notoriously tricky. Some estimates have estimated that there were more than 118 million smart speakers in American homes, but others have suggested the real number could be much lower.

Still, nearly every analyst agrees that people tend to buy multiple smart speakers. This puts the estimate for the total number of homes with smart speakers much closer to 58 million.

Amazon Leads in Smart Speakers

When it comes to which smart speakers people are putting around their homes, Amazon is consistently in the lead, with around 75% of the U.S. market. In just Q3 of 2019, the company reportedly shipped at least three times as many smart speakers as Google – its closest competitor.

Siri and Google Assistant Are The Main Virtual Assistants

Meanwhile, since Amazon does not offer a smartphone, Apple and Siri largely dominate the field when it comes to using smart assistants on phones.

A report from Microsoft in April showed that both companies were neck-and-neck in smart assistant usage, followed by Alexa. Microsoft’s own Cortana came in fourth, only followed by “Other”.

The Takeaway

Smaller businesses have largely stayed away from optimizing specifically for voice search. After the tremendous growth in 2019, however, this is likely to change. Not only are a large number of consumers regularly using voice assistants, they are using them specifically to find and purchase products as soon as possible.

voice-search

Is voice search the next big thing? While more and more people are becoming accustomed to talking into their smartphones, tablets, and smart watches to take notes, get answers, and send messages, most people consider voice search a novelty. However, Bing’s “Search Evangelist” says voice search could become ubiquitous with online searching sooner than you may think, as AdWeek reports.

Speaking at Advertising Week on Thursday, Christi Olson said she expects voice search to go mainstream within the next five years.

This might seem like a big claim, considering voice search capabilities have become common on all smartphones and computers in recent years and yet voice search queries only make up between 5 and 10 percent of all searches made on Bing every month. But, Olson says companies should start planning for it to soon explode in popularity instead of playing catch-up when voice search goes from a trend to the primary way we interact with the internet.

“When you look at paid search and organic search, businesses tend to lag behind with these new technologies,” Olson said. “And so when you look at when the search engines come up with something new, we can give guidelines and guidance to think about how to adjust your content.”

Older users tend to be more skeptical of voice search, but Olson and others suggest that might change as teens and younger people adapt.

“I never was comfortable speaking into my phone,” Geoffrey Colon, product marketing manager for Bing Ads, said. “But my girls? That’s all they know how to do, because they don’t know how to type yet—they’re 4 and 6—but they can talk. So I think many of these things the adoption will actually take off because of the next generation.”

Colon then added to this by citing Snapchat as an example of a new technology initially aimed at kids that has become widespread in use. Quoting writer Alvin Toffler, Colon went on to say “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

When it all boils down, it is hard to deny that voice search is only going to rise in the coming years. Data shows the movement is already gaining ground, and more people are steadily investing in home devices like Amazon Echos that utilize voice search to control home functions and order products.