Facebook is developing a voice-powered virtual assistant similar to Apple’s Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Read more…

Further Reading

Tech companies also are experimenting with monetization strategies that extend beyond the initial purchase of a smart speaker. Amazon likely sells its smart speakers at a loss, according to product teardowns by ABI Research, which estimated the second-generation Echo Dot that sells for $29 has about $31 in parts. But those devices give the e-commerce giant a foothold in the connected-home market and help to support Amazon Prime, the subscription service that costs $119 a year for streaming video, a limited package of streaming music and no-fee two-day shipping on most products. People who have an Echo in their home spend about $1,700 a year on Amazon, or 66% more than the average Amazon customer, per Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

Worldwide Device Shipments by Device Type, 2018-2021 (Millions of Units)

Device Type 2018 2019 2020 2021
Traditional PCs (Desk-Based and Notebook) 195,317 189,472 182,823 175,058
Ultramobiles (Premium) 64,471 68,869 74,432 79,871
Total PC Market 259,787 258,341 257,255 254,929
Ultramobiles (Basic and Utility) 149,561 147,963 145,811 143,707
Computing Device Market 409,348 406,304 403,066 398,636
Mobile Phones 1,811,922 1,802,394 1,824,628 1,798,356
Total Device Market 2,221,270 2,208,697 2,227,694 2,196,992

Source: Gartner (April 2019)

Amazon said the number of Alexa “skills,” the voice-powered apps created for Amazon’s virtual assistant, topped 80,000 worldwide in early 2019.

The number of Alexa skills in the United States more than doubled to 56,750 in January 2019 from 25,784 a year earlier, according to Voicebot.ai.  Alexa skill growth in the U.K. rose 233% to 29,910, while Germany’s skill count rose 152% to 7,869.

Number of Alexa Skills by Country, January 2019

US 56750
UK 29910
Canada 22873
Australia 22398
Germany 7869
Japan 2364
France 981

Source: Voicebot.ai

Google Assistant has “actions” as the apps that expand its capabilities beyond search.

Number of Google Assistant Actions in United States

January 2019 4253
January 2018 1719
October 2017 724
August 468
July 378
June 304
May 232
April 165

Source: Voicebot.ai

Google Assistant Apps by Category – January 2019

Category %
Education and reference 15.07
Games and fun 11.07
Kids and family 9.29
News and magazines 7.69
Home Control 6.91
Travel and transportation 5.60
Shopping 5.58
Business and finance 5.41
Arts and lifestyle 4.73
Health and fitness 4.25
Social and communication 4.03
Music and audio 3.83
Food and drink 3.50
Productivity 3.41
Sports 2.92
Music, photos and TV 2.76
Local 2.62
Weather 1.32

Source: Voicebot.ai

Chinese news agency Xinhua’s first female artificial intelligence (AI) news presenter signals a threat to human news readers.

Other reading:

The Fight to Be a Middle-Aged Female News Anchor: “The average age of the anchors who lost their jobs was 46.8, while their replacements averaged 38.1 years. In one case, the difference was more than two decades,” reporter Steve Cavendish writes in the New York Times.

Older women on US television send subliminal message, Gillian Tett writes in the Financial Times.

Fewer Americans rely on TV news; what type they watch varies by who they are, according to Pew Research Center.

% of U.S. adults who get news on each TV segment

2017 2016
Local TV 37% 46%
Network TV 26% 30%
Cable TV 28% 31%

Source: Pew Research Center

% of U.S. adults who get news often on each platform

2018 2016
TV 49% 57%
News website 33% 28%
Radio 26% 25%
Social media 20% 18%
Print newspapers 16% 20%

Source: Pew Research Center