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Just when you think you have outgrown your current Apple or Samsung smartphone and are ready to plunk hundreds of dollars for the next-generation version, here’s another gadget to consider: the digital voice assistant (DVA). These standalone devices, which are powered by artificial intelligence and use voice interfaces to perform a variety of functions, are giving smartphones a run for the money, according to an Accenture report, “Time to Navigate the Super Myway: Giving Consumers Exactly What They’re Looking For.”

The findings, from an online survey of 21,000 consumers in 19 countries, revealed that 66 percent of consumers who own digital voice assistants said they use their smartphones for fewer applications in the home since acquiring the devices. Nearly two-thirds of these owners said they use their smartphones less for entertainment, 58 percent use smartphones less for online purchasing, and 56 percent use them less for general information searches.

The survey added that the use of DVAs are projected to more than double this year, reaching 39 percent of the online population in India, 37 percent in the United States, 34 percent in Brazil, 33 percent in China, 26 percent in Germany, and 24 percent in the United Kingdom (Figure 1).

What’s perhaps more compelling was that these devices scored high in customer satisfaction: the survey said 63 percent of respondents said they are either using or interested in using a DVA, with 94 percent of current users either satisfied or very satisfied with these products.

The idea of using these AI-assisted devices to turn control home appliances, request music or videos, or search for information is appealing. Still, I’m a bit surprised by the relatively quick adaptation of DVA technology, since I know of no friends, family members, or other acquaintances who have these devices in their homes yet, or are talking about getting one of these products. Everyone I know still has visions of Samsung Galaxy 8 or Apple X.

But being the slow adopter of new technology that I am, perhaps I am rapidly falling behind the times. What do you think? If you have a DVA, has it fulfilled your expectations so far? E-mail me at Spencer.Chin@advantagemedia.com.

Figure 1. Projected ownership levels of standalone DVA devices by end of 2018. Source: Accenture
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