Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, March 13, 2018
Age matters when it comes to voice assistant use, and it’s overly simplistic to say that they’re mostly being used by younger adults. Yes, there’s a strong age difference between active voice assistant users, former users, and those who’ve never even given one a try.
And yes, otherwise-connected adults that have never used a voice assistant are older than active users by a decade. The average age of a connected adult who has never used a voice assistant is 51.7 years. By comparison, the average age for active voice assistant users, those who’ve used one at least once within the last 90 days, is 41.6 years.
However, in this time of experimentation and users finding their own voices, younger adults are disproportionately former voice assistant users. They used a voice assistant within the last year and haven’t used one since.
This is based on results from the MetaFacts Voice User Profile (VUP) survey conducted in February 2018. The results report on active usage, which is a practical measure to contrast with the promised potential of what voice assistants may or may not be able to do.
Our TUP 2017 results show a similar pattern – the novelty effect. Older Millennials have the highest active voice assistant usage rates. This group of 28-36 year-olds also shows the steepest dropoff between recent and less-recent use. This novelty effect is also prevalent among younger millennials (age 18-27) as their usage rate drops.
As a long-time tech analyst, I’ve seen many technologies go through fits and starts as they either reach broader adoption or settle back into their niches. Apple’s Macs had PlainTalk 25 years ago, yet the voice recognition and speech synthesis system never reached widespread regular use. Still, the earliest adopters found ways to use these early voice assistants, such as dictation. Apple’s Siri arguably brought usable voice assistants into handy use for a much broader audience. The most-recent entries from Amazon and Microsoft to Google have brought a lot of heat and light to the category, although it’s still too early to declare voice assistants as be mainstream. There are many challenges ahead for makers of voice assistant systems and listening devices. It’s hard enough to encourage users to experiment with a voice assistant. It’s even harder to get users to continue using the technology after the novelty wears off. Many who have tried have given up, disappointed or daunted that their voice assistant hasn’t lived up their, er, its words.
The information in this MetaFAQs is based on a survey of 7,410 online adults in mid-2017 as part of the MetaFacts Technology User Profile (TUP) study and 525 online adults during February 2018 as part of the MetaFacts Voice User Profile (VUP) study. The TUP and VUP study universes included a representative sample of online adults, with active voice assistant users, former voice assistant users, as well as consumers who have never used a voice assistant.
MetaFAQs are answers to frequently asked questions about technology users. The research results showcase the TUP/Technology User Profile study, MetaFacts’ survey of a representative sample of online adults profiling the full market’s use of technology products and services. The current wave of TUP is TUP/Technology User Profile 2020, which is TUP’s 38th annual.
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