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

Less than half (40%) of consumers report interest in chatbot experiences from brands, including 20% who said they’re very interested in interacting with the artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Read more…

Additional Reading:

Businesses that employ human workers in call centers see the potential to save billions of dollars by automating conversations with their customers. That’s especially true for banks, whose operational cost savings will surge 3,400% to $7.3 billion worldwide in 2023 from $209 million this year, per a forecast from Juniper Research. Insurance companies will see their cost savings grow 333% to $1.3 billion by 2023 from $300 million this year as chatbots replace human claims processors in auto, life, property and health insurance.

The U.S. installed base of smart-speaker devices nearly doubled to 66 million units in December from a year earlier, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. The installed base was 53 million units in September 2018 and 36 million in December 2017.

Amazon Echo has 70 percent of the installed base, followed by Google Home at 24 percent and Apple HomePod at 6 percent.

The percentage of smart-speaker owners who have more than device grew to 35 percent in December from 18 percent a year earlier.

CIRP surveyed 500 U.S. owners of Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod devices from Jan. 1 -11, 2019.

Source: CIRP

Signify, formerly Philips Lighting, for the first time added voice-powered wake-up and sleep commands to its Philips Hue smart-bulbs. Read more…

(PRNewsfoto/Signify)

Philips Hue also extended its product line to include flood lights, more wall-mounted lights and lanterns and a motion sensor, the Verge reported. The Hue Outdoor sensor, which can detect motion up to 39 feet away, will sell for $50 starting next month. Philips also will begin selling its new outdoor lighting for prices ranging from $110 to $150 next month.

Photo: Fabian Hurnaus/Pexels

Amazon regained the lead in smart-speaker market share during the third quarter after lagging behind Google during the prior six months, according to a report from researcher Canalys.

Amazon promoted its Echo smart speakers going into its annual Prime Day shopping event, while Google cut prices of its Google Home smart devices to remain competitive with Amazon, Canalys said. Google was the top seller of smart speakers during the second and third quarters, the researcher said.

Smart-speaker shipments more than doubled (up 137 percent) to 19.7 million in Q3 2018 from a year earlier.

Amazon shipped 6.3 million Echo smart speakers that have its Alexa voice assistant, while Google sold 5.9 million of its Google Home devices that have Google Assistant.

While Amazon, Google and Amazon are the top sellers of smart speakers in the United States, Alibaba, Xiaomi and Baidu are the leaders in mainland China.

Smart-speaker shipments almost tripled (up 197%) to a record 22.7 million units globally in the third quarter from a year earlier, putting the voice-enabled devices on track to exceed 100 million in use during the final three months of 2018, according to researcher Strategy Analytics. Amazon remained the top-ranked vendor in the third quarter with a 32 percent share followed by Google at 23 percent. China’s Baidu boosted its share from just 1 percent in the second quarter to 8 percent in the third quarter, the fastest growth among smart-speaker makers. Baidu, Alibaba and Xiaomi are vying leadership in the fledgling smart speaker market in China.