Mixed picture for voice activation technology in APAC as India soars and Singapore lags behind

Singapore has the potential to become a “dynamic” market for voice recognition technology, but consumers are reporting even the basics remain sub standard, according to a report.

More than half of Singaporeans questioned in a study by Dentsu agency iProspect said they don’t use the technology because they are misunderstood, while nearly six out of 10 said their queries return inaccurate responses.

A further 53% cited an embarrassment factor for not using it, with 46% believing typing is easier.

“Voice is prevalent in Singapore, but the desire to use the technology is missing,” the The Future is Voice Activated report concluded.

Of six countries studied, Japan had fewest current users of voice activation, with 40% followed by Singapore with 55%. India topped the table in Asia Pacific with 82%, China 77% and Indonesia 62%. Australia sat just above Singapore with 57%.

The appetite for the technology is growing sharply in India, the study found. Of current users, nearly eight out of 10 had increased their use in the past six months. In China, almost 70% indicated they would take increasing advantage of the technology.

Yet in Singapore and Japan only 37% and 36% respectively who had used voice activation had been impressed enough to increase their usage. While only 8% and 4% has fallen away in both markets, 55% and 60% said their usage had remained the same.

The report said voice activation is at an “inflection point” in Singapore. Despite the issues, the opportunity for brands was “growing”, it said.

Noting that only half of Singaporeans who use voice activation do so on a weekly basis – and that most said their usage had not increased – the report said: “Voice is prevalent in Singapore, but the desire to use the technology is missing.

Frequency of voice activation in Singapore

“As with Japan, reasons for using are anchored in functionality and voice is often not used unless a demand needs to be fulfilled,” it said. “Brands will increasingly be challenged to demonstrate the opportunity of voice to remove friction and improve efficiencies in their daily lives.”

The report found more than 50% of total respondents regularly sourced information on products and services via smartphone. With that in mind, iProspect insisted there was a “clear opportunity for brands to better connect with their consumers in impromptu moments of discovery”.

The report said “Singapore has the potential of moving from a conservative growth market to a dynamic one if recognition improves and brands can demonstrate value in frequent voice usage.”

“The most common reason for not using voice search [in Singapore] is inaccurate processing and embarrassment to use in public,” the report said. “But the main issues remains in its accuracy in returning relevant results.

“As this improves we expect Singapore adoption to grow.”

In addition, with the perception that typing is easier, there remains a “key role” for brands to showcase the efficiencies of voice “from the discovery to purchase phase”.

Overall, the report claimed that while voice adoption in Asia Pacific was “surging” – particularly in India and China where voice is becoming “ingrained in daily life” – it remains a “largely unexplored trend across Asia Pacific”.

Nevertheless, brands need to tap into the developing trend or risk being left behind, iProspect said.


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