Hi, you’re reading Wakeword, a newsletter all about the difficult bit where the news, voice-controlled devices and artificial intelligence collide.
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Let’s start with an easy answer.
I’ve got a smart speaker! But who else?
A good place to start is Rajar, the body which provides radio listening figures, because it’s also been branching out into research into how people are listening to digital audio too.
64% of all listening done on a Voice Activated Speaker such as an Amazon Echo, Google Home or Sonos 1 is to Live Radio. On Demand Music has a share of 34%, Podcasting 2% and Audiobooks 1%.
Rajar puts out a briefing every quarter, but I've tried to tidy up the data a little bit using Datawrapper.
Here are the figures for how all radio/music/audio listening is shared out by device.
So as you can see, smart speakers (Voice activated Speakers) don’t seem to be setting on fire just yet when it comes to the panel that Rajar asked about radio and audio listening.
Just a 4% share, with AM/FM Radio and DAB Radio pulling in around half of all listening right now.
But you might have spotted that smartphones among the younger generations are on the way up, overtaking both forms of radio.
Smart speakers are doing better with 15-24s and 35-54s. The second age range makes sense because they can still be seen as fairly early adopter - especially some of the pricier models.
Live radio is way out in front for everyone but, for 15-24s it’s on demand music like Spotify, Apple Music or Amazon Music that’s taking the lion’s share.
Audiobooks and Podcasts are faring better with, I hate saying this, millennials too.
Anecdotally, I can see why live radio is doing better overall.
In my experience, using a smart speaker in the kitchen, live radio is by its nature easy to tune in and out from, as is on demand music.
The figures don’t seem to quite back me up… but I wonder if it’s a sample size thing?
Maybe there’s a trick being missed by the manufacturers to let people take whatever they’re listening to while they do something in the kitchen onwards with them.
Why start listening to a three-hour long on-demand radio programme if you know what you need to do will only take half an hour?
Spotify are probably doing this best right now with Spotify Connect - but I see no reason why Amazon and Google couldn’t be doing more with this.
🕵️♀️ Another privacy tale: Um… Amazon’s keeping at least some of what you say to Alexa forever as transcripts. Hope that’s OK with you?!
📧 Ooof - taken down a notch from Silicon Valley unicorn-esque darlings all by a tiny pixel. Buzzy and exclusive email app Superhuman has u-turned on how it uses tracking pixels in the emails its users send.
🚘 Dozens of people follow Google Maps detour in US; get stuck in field. This kind of thing has happened in Cumbria, where I’m from, before:
📚 A timely reminder that you don’t own a lot of the digital things you buy, as Microsoft shuts down its eBook store and revokes access to all the books bought from it.
🎧 Listen to this! It’s a BBC Sounds podcast about switching off social media for a week to see what happens. I know this kind of thing’s been done before but it looks to be the first of many which will be interesting to see develop. Adam Buxton’s on the first one.
🎧 …and this too! Why’d You Push That Button from Vox is one of the top podcasts right now for understanding how modern tech and social media are changing the rules of human interaction. Their three part series about death online has been great.
📱 No love lost for Jony Ive as he leaves Apple, from Vice, because he designed products that are irreparable and destined for the scrapheap.