AI assistants will outnumber humans by 2021: report

Google Assistant to lead the way via device ubiquity, followed by Samsung’s Bixby.

alexa, AI assistants

AI Assistants:

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We humans are about to become outnumbered by artificially intelligence assistants, according to Ovum.

A new report from the analysis firm expects there to be 7.5 billion devices installed with the likes of Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri by 2021, which will exceed the human population.

Leading the charge will be Google, with about 23 per cent of the market by then, or close to 1.8 billion installed assistants. Ovum predicts phenomenal growth for Google Assistant, which has “only” about 200 million right now.

The next closest in terms of total installs will be various Chinese-language AI assistants, with about 1.2 billion projected by 2021. Samsung’s Bixby, however, will be second globally with 1.1 billion or 14.5 per cent market share.

Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, however, are expected to grow only marginally – Siri from about 800 million now to 1 billion by 2021, and Alexa from 100 million to 300 million.

Device ubiquity will be the key, the firm says. Google may be a latecomer to the voice-activated AI game, but with Android running on nearly 90 per cent of the world’s phones, plus a host of other devices, the company’s Assistant will propagate quickly.

That ever-presence is important because of the network effect. The more devices an assistant is on, the more voice data samples it gathers and the better it gets.

To that end, Google announced a flurry of new device availability this week at its annual I/O conference, from refrigerators and robot vacuums to even Apple’s iPhone.

Samsung’s growth is expected for the same reasons. Bixby has gotten off to a rocky start, but Ovum believes it will snowball given the South Korean company’s wide array of electronics, especially smartphones and televisions.

Those two product categories, along with cars, will continue to be the most relevant gadgets for some time, and Samsung is a leader in both.

Apple, despite its extreme profitability, will continue to be a niche player, while Ovum projects Amazon to be a laggard after jumping to an early lead. The company just doesn’t have the hardware profile for global ubiquity.

One other interesting stat: more than 95 per cent of the install base for Alexa and Google Assistant at the end of last year was in North America. By 2021, 47 per cent will be in Asia and Oceania. In other words, the assistants are about to go global.

Next stop: Skynet.

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