Top news stories for Season 2, Episode 4 (February 15, 2018):

1a) Washington Post: "Bumbling" Siri just got dumber on the HomePod

1b) But wait, there's more: the HomePod also damages furniture (USA Today)

2) Voicebot.AI Story of the Week: Over Next Five Years, Google Will Overtake Amazon In Smart Speaker Market Share (Loup Ventures analyst report)

3) Facebook to launch not one, but two smart speakers in July; speakers codenamed Fiona and Aloha

4) U Got The Look: The Echo Look, Amazon's invitation-only product, showed up at New York Fashion Week

This Week In Voice available via:

Apple Podcasts

Google Play Music

Overcast

SoundCloud

Stitcher Radio

TuneIn

YouTube (+ closed captioning)

Panel for Season 2, Episode 4 (February 15, 2018):

Anup Gosavi is founder of Spext, which automatically transcribes hours of interviews, podcasts or videos in minutes. Spext saves you time and money, and lets you search inside audio files.

William Nutt is founder of Nutt Labs, a boutique digital agency specializing in distinctive websites, sophisticated email and actionable data. Comprising avid Alexa fans, his New York-based team administers Alexa Bio, a resource for users at all levels to make the most of Alexa and follow her continuous evolution.

Transcript:

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:00:11] Hi and welcome back to This Week In Voice, Episode 4 for Season 2. Today is Thursday, February the 15th. My name is Bradley Metrock; I'm CEO of a company called Score Publishing based here in Nashville, Tennessee. Our sponsor for This Week In Voice, as well as the presenting sponsor for The Voice-First Roundtable, is VoiceXP, blazing the trail in voice technology. VoiceXP creates custom Alexa skills and Google Home actions. They're based out of St. Louis, Missouri. They just joined a very prominent accelerator that's based in St. Louis, Missouri and they've done a great job of cultivating voice-first technology across the Midwest and across the country. If you're looking for someone to develop an Alexa skill for you or your company, or a Google Home action for you and your company, go to voicexp.com. Go look up Bob Stolberg, Mark Tucker or the rest of the team. They will help you greatly. You'll be glad that you did.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:01:15] We are very pleased today to have a fantastic panel. Our first guest is Anup Gosavi - Anup how are you?

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:01:25] I'm good Bradley, thanks for having me.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:01:27] Absolutely, Anup. Anup is founder of Spext. Anup, tell us what Spext is.

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:01:33] Spext is kind of like - think of it as Photoshop for voice. It is a platform where you can edit, search and repurpose your voice audio. And the idea here is to make interacting with voice easy for everyone.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:01:50] Very cool. And that's Spext - and what's the website for that?

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:01:55] Spext.com, Spect.com.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:02:00] Perfect. And we've got a link to that in the news stories for the week, as well as we'll include that in the show notes. Anup - thank you very much for joining us today.

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:02:09] Thank you so much for having me.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:02:11] Our other guest today is William Nutt. William say hello.

 

William Nutt: [00:02:15] Hello - thank you Bradley. I’m happy to be here.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:02:18] Happy to have you William. So William you are Founder and Chief Strategist of Nutt, which is your company, and you are also the creator of Alexa.bio. Let's take a second and explain both. Give us the information about both of those, share with us what both of those are.

 

William Nutt: [00:02:37] Yeah - thank you. So Nutt and Nutt Labs are just a little boutique digital agency based in New York and we specialize in what we call distinctive websites and sophisticated e-mail and actionable data. That's kind of what I do by day, but our little team is comprised of some pretty avid Alexa fans. And so we decided to pursue a little side project in Alexa.bio, which is basically just an intuitive, a robust online resource for Alexa users of all interests and skill levels. You know everybody from the enthusiasts like your audience, but also just kind of the casual user who maybe dabbling in the Alexa territory for the first time.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:03:36] Very cool. Very cool and we've got links to both of those in the news stories page as well, so you can check those out, William thank you for joining us.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:03:45] And with that we will get to the news, and our first story this week is about the HomePod. So if you listen to this show on a regular basis, which we're fortunate to have many of you that do and very fortunate those numbers have been growing, thank you for everyone who listens to This Week In Voice. We are very honored to have you aboard. You know very well that I'm not a fan of the HomePod and I'm not a fan of what Apple is doing, this modern day version of Apple that got its priorities pretty much firmly affixed on appeasing Wall Street, and not doing a whole lot of other stuff and dropping the ball in a lot of areas. So the HomePod has come out this week. Washington Post gave it a pretty terrible review. That link is included in the stories of the week. Then it got worse with information that the HomePod damages furniture that you sit it on, different types of wood furniture, with no notice from Apple whatsoever. They typed up a quick memo on it after the news had come out. That information is on Apple's Website now. But this sort of came out of nowhere. It leaves rings on the wood furniture in many circumstances. So I want to ask the panel and Anup I'm going to start with you. First of all do you have a HomePod? If you do, do you like it? If you don't, are you going to get one? And then give me your take on what Apple is doing. Are you as negative as I am, any more positive? How do you think all this plays out over the rest of the year?

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:05:26] Right. So I think it's a very interesting question. I don't have a HomePod right now and honestly speaking, I don't have plans to buy a HomePod anytime soon. And the reason I think is I kind of agree with you on where Apple is, and I think the products that they have been coming up with have not been that great. And like you said, I think they're mostly appeasing to Wall Street. And I think one of the reasons why that is happening is they have oriented themselves more with the iPhone than anything else, so as an organization, all the organization, the best people probably are working on the iPhone product as opposed to other types of products. So we are seeing that the MacBook line is suffering a little and similar is the case with the HomePod. So what I found most interesting was that they're marketing it more on the quality of sound rather than saying that it's a smart speaker, so that kind of answers that even Apple knows that it is not really smart, which I found really funny. And it's really surprising. So I think that they had an enormous lead when it came to Siri, they had the most conversations going there. And it is surprising why the platform has not done well.

 

William Nutt: [00:06:43] Right. I do not have a HomePod. My sentiment is very much in line with yours, and with the news in terms of the HomePod. I don't think I'm quite as down on Apple more broadly as you are Bradley. I know you're calling for the ouster of Tim Cook.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:07:03] That hasn't happened yet? OK sorry keep going.

 

William Nutt: [00:07:06] Yeah, so anyway I find that a little bit amusing but I certainly understand where you're coming from with it, but in terms of the HomePod I mean reviews across the board are generally you know very negative in terms of the intelligence of the speaker, the sound quality apparently. I haven't heard it myself. It is really robust for the size of the speaker. And you know that's a really important caviar because as a full-fledged you know kind of home theater system, it certainly does not suffice for a contained speaker. It sounds like the technology, the sound technology, is really quite remarkable. Yeah I mean I agree it's surprising that they've released this product in the condition that it's in, even you know being as late as it was because you can just see in all of these reviews it's just absolutely riddled with just inefficiencies and places where it's fallen short as compared to its competitors in Assistant and Alexa. So I'm disappointed by it. I'm very much a part of the Apple ecosystem, but you know to be a HomePod user you've got to be locked into that ecosystem. You can't listen to Spotify with it or other audio sources; you can't use it as a Bluetooth speaker. There are so many features that are absent from this device. They'll probably keep me away from it, may be permanently. We'll see you know how quickly and to what extent they roll out these other features.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:08:50] Somebody had done some analysis right when the HomePod were starting to come out of you know things that you know comparing Siri to Alexa to Google Assistant. And one of the few things that Siri does better than Alexa and Google Home, and I just think this is pretty funny - I haven't seen formal articles written about this - I thought about writing one myself - is that if you ask Siri for stock information it will give you in general more updated and more thorough stock information than Alexa or Google Assistant. And it just really ties into the narrative that Wall Street - you know Apple - is just so concerned about the financial optics of the company; because that's one of the very few things, in fact the person who posted and that they couldn't even name anything else. And the funny thing about Apple is that if you ask people who are Apple enthusiast, I'm part of the ecosystem as well, I've still got my trusty 6 plus phone which I'm desperately hanging onto because the headphone jack, and I bought the latest MacBook Pro. You know so I'm part of the ecosystem too, but when I get in these conversations with folks just randomly I will ask them "so what is it that Apple does better right now than anybody else?" You know people have trouble answering that question. So anyway yes and I thought it was interesting that Walt Mossberg just came out yesterday on Twitter and talked about how Siri is the greatest product failure of Apple of all time, and he's not a hater. In fact he's a fanboy in many ways, his entire career was built on Apple decades ago. So you know we sit in an interesting place and this commentary has been great.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:10:36] William I will ask you, you've got an Alexa.bio that you put together as an Alexa resource and you've done that, you made that investment of time because you know that Amazon is aggressively promoting Alexa. They're doing all the right things and making all the right moves. The user base is growing. Do you ever foresee a time where you might put such a resource together for the HomePod or for Siri?

 

William Nutt: [00:11:06] No for Siri probably. You know I'm in your boat where I'm just not very high on it and I'm not very optimistic about Siri. What makes this even more discouraging is how much of a lead that they could have had. When you look at when Siri was first introduced in 2011 you know there wasn't even a whiff of Google Assistant or Alexa at the time and they just totally lost that opportunity. And it's quite stunning how far behind they've fallen. But you know Google Assistant has its advantages over Alexa. I'm certainly not all in on Alexa. I see them as complementing each other in a really robust way, particularly as they make their ways into so many different hardware devices together where you know just depending on the wake word that you use. You can choose which assistant to tap into. So we're definitely focused on Alexa at this point. We still favor Alexa mostly because of that lead that it had for a while and its broader integration, among a few other benefits. To answer your question, probably not for Siri but likely for Google Assistant at some point.

 

William Nutt: [00:12:33] I also wanted to mention I loved - I just kind of drew a parallel between what Anup said and what you just said Bradley as well - where you know Apple is kind of doubling down on the iPhone and serving Wall Street, whereas you know Amazon just recently announced they're doubling down on Alexa. So you know while Apple's focused elsewhere, Amazon's really going all in on Alexa. So it's interesting to see kind of how they're allocating these different resources that they have towards their virtual assistants, and it's obviously very much reflected in the quality of the product.

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:13:18] Apple needs to think of this more as an interface rather than just a product. So just marketing it as a speaker, looking at it as a hardware product is kind of limited. So they will have to quickly figure out a way to make Siri smarter so that it can become an interface to the larger Apple ecosystem. So I think that is the difference between the ways Amazon looks at Alexa, is like an interface to the larger ecosystem of Amazon so you can probably use Amazon audio, or you can order a lot of things from Alexa. So I think that is the shift that needs to happen. And until that happens I think HomePod is going to continue to struggle.

 

William Nutt: [00:14:04] And one other point in line with that is that Siri within the HomePod is even less intelligent than Siri is within the iPhone. I mean speaking to Siri through your iPhone opens up a handful of features that aren't even available on the HomePod. So I think just to complement Anup's point, they at least need to match the intelligence among these devices.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:14:30] Yeah - nothing says rushed product to market than disabling stuff because you're worried about how it's going to work, you know what I mean? And which is just ridiculous because you know as we can quickly forget they announced the product back in June. It's not like they announced it in October and then missed the December deadline you know that they set for themselves. They announced it in June and then they missed the December deadline that they set for themselves. And then here we get the product in February and they're like, oh yeah well we disabled a bunch of stuff and we are not going to tell you about how it interacts with different surfaces because we honestly don't know, we didn't even test it. Oh and also Airplay 2, you're not going to see that for a while even though we told you that was coming. So yeah it's you know it is what it is. We'll see how that plays out.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:15:30] This ties very well to our second story which is our Voicebot.ai story of the week. Voicebot.ai, a very good business and technology website oriented around voice, check it out. Over the next five years Google will overtake Amazon in smart speaker market share. Now it's a great article. It's based on an analyst report, all that information is there. It's actually quite kind to Apple and the HomePod. It shows their numbers kind of aggressively growing. But I think that the story here is you know Google overtaking Amazon, hypothesizing that that will happen. And we've seen a little bit of that because on the heels of CES you know Google was advertising extremely aggressively, and they succeeded, according to many reports, in taking some market share away. So Anup I want to start with you on this. Do you believe this report in general and do you specifically believe the idea that Google can overtake Amazon, in what we'll call smart speaker market share, which really just I take that to mean just sort of voice assistant market share as a smart speaker sort of blended into other hardware. What's your take?

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:16:49] I think I tend to agree with the article that has come out and I think the key word there is global, Right? So globally I think Google definitely has a chance to overtake Alexa because if you look at outside the U.S., the Amazon ecosystem is not as well loved as it is in the United States. So there I think many people rely on Android, they rely on Google. So I think outside the U.S. I see Google taking the lead, but in the U.S. I think it will do - I would still place my bets on Alexa because if you look at every household it is just well connected to the Amazon ecosystem. So you can actually get most out of an ecosystem if you have an Alexa. So I think in the U.S. markets Alexa will continue to dominate, but outside Google definitely has a chance. And one advantage that Google I think has here is essentially their machine learning and speech recognition tech. So I think the report talked about how Google Assistant was able to get almost 80 percent of the queries right, but Alexa was getting only around 64 percent and HomePod was in the 50s. So I think that is where they have an advantage. And globally I think I see Google Assistant making a larger impact than the U.S. market.

 

William Nutt: [00:18:28] Yeah I completely agree that the global component is an extremely important consideration here. The article actually mentions another study that's a little bit less favorable towards Google Assistant, and that study was U.S. specific. So that really is an important factor. I think that Google Assistant is absolutely capable of overtaking Alexa in terms of market share. I realize there are so many different considerations involved that I think that it's all just speculation at this point and I think any sort of prediction is not going to be entirely reliable.

 

William Nutt: [00:19:10] But you know these are two of the most powerful companies on the planet who are basically betting their futures on these technologies and these products so it's just fascinating to observe. One other really important consideration that I consider often is that you know Alexa still doesn't have a convenient presence in smartphones, and obviously that's an advantage that Google has. So it will be really interesting to see how Amazon approaches that despite you know being totally open to third party device manufacturers and getting Alexa into products. You know spanning bathroom toilets and mirrors to automobiles and all sorts of headphones. They still haven't found a way to make Alexa totally accessible in a convenient way in smartphones. So I think that would be a pretty critical factor in the success of Alexa and the ability of Amazon to hold onto its market share.

 

William Nutt: [00:20:18] One other point is that this study, or this prediction, was kind of sales specific. So in 2021 or 2022 while Google Home it is predicted to have a greater market share, that's in terms of sales, but because of Alexa's head start, the total user base this article predicts to be still larger among Alexa users.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:20:45] That's great analysis from both y'all. A couple of things that stood out to me, you got to love these analyst reports where you know they sit there and tell you what's going to happen five years from now, and that's a fun game to play because it's a win, win and you know sort of prognosticating five years from now because either way you come out ahead. If you were completely wrong, everybody has long since forgotten. If you were right, then you know you've got the article framed on your wall and you're bashing everybody over the head with how great you were. So you know these things always fascinate me.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:21:23] One thing is toward the end of the article it talks about how the HomePod price will drop over the next five years to where you'll be paying $149 for a HomePod in 2022. You know I'm like no; I'll be paying $4 for a HomePod in 2022 on the clearance rack. Anyway I digress. The one thing I want to point out about this, other than that little aside about - I've got many friends who do this sort of endless reporting so I like to make fun of them - but you know this stuff just generates a conversation and that's the real value. It gets people thinking in different ways about the future and that's what we're talking about now.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:22:09] One question I have for both y'all on this before we move on, the thing that truly did stick out to me in a more relevant way is if you look at the pie charts that Voicebot.ai has on the page, there's one for 2018 and then there's one for 2022. The thing is that it's hard to sit there and agree, disagree. You know I definitely think that the percentages among the three major players will change, but the "others" is the one that bothers me. From 2018 "others" goes from 4 percent and then it actually decreases percentage wise to 3 percent five years from now, and I don't know if I believe that. I think that I really like what Mycroft.ai is doing with their smart speaker. I think it's a blueprint for stuff to come and this is the question that I want to pose to both of you, and William I'll start with you and then Anup I'll go to you. Do you see an opportunity in the context of this report, or just in your general experience, the opportunity over the next year, two years, three years, or five years for somebody else? And I don't mean Facebook. I mean some smaller to mid-tier company to get involved with a smart speaker in a way that would take more market share away from Apple, Amazon, Google than what's represented in this report? William I'll start with you.

 

William Nutt: [00:23:42] Yeah, Bradley I made the same observation. I was pretty taken aback by how small that "others" percentage was, mostly because of the other big players not necessarily for the opportunity of the little guys. I'm not sure that it would be within the capacity of a small startup to legitimately carve into the market share of these you know these other enormous players. I think they are pursuing these products and these technologies so aggressively, they are allocating such a significant portion of their vast resources towards making them as ubiquitous as possible that it would not be within the capacity of a small startup. I think if there is going to be a meaningful growth in that "others" category over the next five years, I do think it will be someone like Facebook, who I know we're going to talk about in a second, or one of the other ones who are already kind of in the game like Microsoft and Samsung. But I certainly would be behind the disruptive startup who gives it a shot.

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:24:54] Right, I think I agree with what William just said. One factor that might affect all of this is how quickly both of the voice assistant's become a platform. So how quickly both of them, both of these large companies decide to make it a platform so that other people you can build on top of it. So if both Google and Amazon kind of limit their partnership or the platform nature of the voice assistant's, then it makes it harder for any of the smaller companies or even larger hardware manufacturers to build on top of that. So if it becomes a platform that anybody can access, I think that the number will change. You will see a lot of smaller companies come up or a lot of other hardware manufacturers come in as well. But until that I think that really depends, so that will be a big strategic call that both of these companies will have to make and it can be differential. If I were to kind of guess, Google has always been the kind of company that is more keen on making all its products as platforms, so if Google opens up the platform earlier than Amazon then things might get really, really interesting.

 

William Nutt: [00:26:14] That also speaks to another disadvantage of Apple in this kind of battle. I think is that you know they are notoriously closed off where you're completely locked into their own ecosystem that their lack of openness is going to inhibit their ability to make meaningful growth within this market.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:26:36] You're right. I completely agree with everything both y'all had to say. The walled garden approach is not going to work for Apple in this market. And one of two things is going to happen. They're going to change it, they're going to change it under Tim Cook, or they're going to change it under somebody else because it's got to change. And if they don't change under Tim Cook, then you know they're going to continue to languish until he's gone. And very interestingly just this last week at the Apple Shareholder Meeting, Tim Cook actually talked at some length about his succession plan. And it's the first time that he's ever done that according to people that follow what happens at those meetings, and that will be very interesting to watch and to see if Tim Cook learns from the HomePod’s sort of failings at the beginning and start to get stuff on board or whether it's got to be somebody else.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:27:29] But the thing about the "other" category, get back to that a second just in closing, I do think we're going to have significant players rise up and do very innovative things that cause them to carve out some market share in unexpected ways. The argument I think for the pie chart staying like it is in the article is that those people are inevitably going to get acquired almost right away because you know Amazon and Google and Apple can't allow some new party to rise up and take market share away. They can't allow that uncertainty if they truly believe, like all of us do, that the voice-first ecosystem is the epicenter of technology moving forward. So you know as these players rise up and you know surprise people, they'll get acquired and then the pie chart ends up looking the exact same. I think that's the argument in my mind. But anyhow, yeah just a lot of food for thought. I thought it was a great piece that Voicebot.ai produced and I appreciate y'all's commentary on that.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:28:36] We will roll on to story number three which does involve Facebook. So whereas I look at Apple with just you know disappointment and lost potential, I think Facebook is, and I look at Facebook negatively for a different reason, I think that they've just got the hardest job to do of almost any business can ever have, that's reversing their brand identity. Their brand identity is one of I don't trust you. And so here they are, and this has been my problem with them, they can come out with all this great technology and this is what this article is about, they're about to launch not one but two smart speakers and we've got a date for that. If you believe the reports, it's July and they look like the Echo Show. And as I asked at the very beginning on this show actually months ago, and this is my question for you all now, and William I will start with you on this. Who is going to buy a Facebook smart speaker? Do you agree with me that Facebook has got a trust problem, and I'm not even talking about, I mean the fake news thing is one thing, but even before that just sort of their evasive methodology? Do you think I'm overblowing that? Do you think that Facebook can be a player or do you agree with me? Let me get your take on that.

 

William Nutt: [00:30:07] Yes. It's really interesting to see what Facebook is doing in terms of the voice market. They are obviously taking more of a video-centric approach rather than just voice. If the speculation is accurate then obviously these devices, they won't just have screens but they'll have screens of a pretty significant size, much larger than the Echo Show, closer to a laptop size. And what the analysts are speculating believe is that that's going to mean that this sort of platform is going to be more about you know connecting with people, video chatting and they use the example of you know grandchildren connecting with their grandparents which obviously Amazon has used in its marketing as well. So you know as we consider who might purchase these products, it might be you know the folks who are more oriented towards using these different technologies for connectivity with other people. This is going to be a whole lot more social then it will be I think about you know connecting smart homes, smart home devices, and maybe even listening to music, and those other sorts of features that are so popular on Google Assistant and on Alexa.

 

William Nutt: [00:31:25] However with that said, another part of this report was that Facebook is in the process of arranging licensing agreements with entertainment companies like Sony for music rights and for video rights as well. So it could also be kind of an entertainment hub as well, which would more directly compete with Amazon and Google. But I do think this will be geared more towards the social crowd and those seeking to use these technologies to connect with other people.

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:31:53] I think according to what William said that was pretty interesting that Facebook is kind of taking a video-centric approach. That's why the displays and devices are rumored to be twice as large as those found elsewhere. So that is a very interesting way, so it might be more that Facebook is looking to promote Facebook videos through this interface because I think they have been pushing the Facebook videos platform quite a lot. They maybe see it as an alternative to YouTube in some shape or form. So I think that might be a way for Facebook realizing these devices might be a way for them to increase the consumption of Facebook videos. That said, I think the larger problem here is the feeling of trust. Do you trust Facebook as a company, which I think not a lot of people do because there is this controversy of Facebook you know listening through the microphone; and then based on the conversation showing you ads in your news feed on Facebook? And it's scary, it has happened to me a couple of times when I was thinking about a trip to Hawaii and after like three days I started getting these ads about airline tickets to Hawaii and it was really creepy.

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:33:19] So I think that image of trust as something that's going to be very important and rumors say that they're going to put a camera in these devices as well. So if that was what people were concerned with their privacy before, putting a camera and recording it fulltime is going to be a scary thing. So it remains to be seen. I think the biggest blocker there will be the trust and privacy issues that Facebook has engendered, so that I'm sure will reflect on these devices.

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:33:55] And second I think the demographic that they might be targeting might be not only the early adopters, but more of the mainstream market where Facebook is now seeing a lot of growth. So that is where it's like being on the older side of the population, about 45 or 50, maybe that is where they are trying to position this so that they want people in that demographic, where they chatted with their families. Most of the kids are now moved away for school and just staying in touch might be a good idea.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:34:32] No I completely agree. I think their brand identity is almost defined by distrust and it's so strange. It's hard to even think of what a good analogy to them would be. But I thought you made a great point there Anup as well about how Facebook dominates with older folks. And conversely you know millennials and whatever the generations are called younger than that you know want nothing to do with it at all. They don't hang out there much in the same way that they wouldn't hang out in the lobby of a nursing home. And I think that's one of the big things that has to be reconciled, and it's tough to tell how it play out. There's a market, it's not you know really up for discussion. I think at this point it's definitely a market for if Facebook can leverage its dominance with older demographics and convert that into voice-first applications and usage, then hey there's a game plan and there's a pathway to regaining some trust and demonstrating some trust.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:35:40] But what's interesting is that, as both of y'all well know and listeners of this well know, people involved in this area technology well know, one of the major thematic undercurrents of voice technology is that we have this young generation of children who are growing up, not just in the U.S. but increasingly in other markets as well, with the expectation of being able to interact with the computer with their voice first and you know other input method second. And you know my son, you know my wife and I have a 6 year old son, he's very comfortable asking Alexa for information and he doesn't own a computer, what most people consider a computer, a laptop or anything like that. All he knows is that as a computer is the Echo Show that sits in our house. That's going to be interesting to watch because Facebook is repulsive to younger generations, and yet that's such a defining group of this new voice-first era. So I don't know how that plays out. I really don't even know what it means. I just find it's incongruous and it's going to be interesting to see how that reconciles itself.

 

William Nutt: [00:36:56] Yeah, and Bradley we also spoke earlier about the global factor versus the United States. And obviously Facebook has just expansive reach globally so that that may contribute to its ability to have a meaningful impact in this market.

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:37:13] So interesting. I mean one good thing about this is for the voice space and people that the voice market will expand even more with Facebook coming in. So I think that is good news for the entire sector. But for Facebook how well the strategy will plan out remains to be seen.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:37:32] I completely agree, both y'all, really good points. We will leave that there and move on to story number four. This very mysterious invitation only product that came out a few months ago, well more than a few months ago, earlier in 2017 which is a combination of a camera and a microphone. It's designed to help people with their fashion, what it does is it looks at you and helps make fashion recommendations, outfit recommendations, clothing recommendations based on the data of looking at you in real time and then interacting with you via voice. This product has just shown up again at New York Fashion Week this week, apparently playing a significant role, according to this article, in helping some of these people in this industry come up with their clothing lines and their catalogs for the fall, and their fall lineups and all the stuff that's part of this industry. Super interesting to see this and it's just sort of a little off the beaten path of the normal, you know some of the normal stories that we're in the habit of talking about. Anup I want to start with you on this article. I just want to ask you how this article struck you. What your initial thoughts were? Is this just an indication like we all believe that voice technology, voice-first technology, is just going to permeate every aspect of our lives? What what's your take?

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:39:04] This is one of the most interesting applications of Alexa that I have seen and I have many friends who work in the fashion domain who are extremely bullish on Alexa's look, and my initial thoughts were I think it's a big problem. The fashion space is huge. A big problem in Fashion has always been creating clothes that fit you correctly, and it really depends on your body type, you height, and a bunch of other factors. And what I think Amazon is trying to do here is combine the developments in vision or image recognition, artificial intelligence, and developments in voice. So the way I see this is as tech improves this can really get much better at understanding your body type based on which it can start recommending clothes that that you right, and that again will help take out the friction from the purchases.

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:40:12] And so we know that Amazon is going really big on Apple's and that is a big segment for the upcoming segment for them. So I'm really excited. There's a huge opportunity here. And what Amazon is doing instead of just slamming it in a really proper way and that's why the Echo Look is really only through invitation. So what they are trying to do is they're trying to solve this apple purchase, kind of user friendly. How do you reduce friction in getting Apple recommendations, getting the right set of clothes that fit you correctly?

 

William Nutt: [00:40:52] Yeah I found this really interesting as well, particularly in the context of another recent announcement about the Echo Look, where Amazon has partnered with GQ and Vogue to make recommendations within the app that pairs with the Echo Look. The app is very much a part of the Echo Look experience, and this kind of led me to consider that these sort of affiliate relationships where brands like GQ and Vogue, and maybe even some of these fashion designers, can have a presence within these experiences and when they make recommendations that lead to purchases they can they can take a cut of those profits. And I know that there have been a lot of questions around how you know Amazon and Google and these other countries are going to monetize these voice-first platforms and introduce advertising in them. And I'm thinking that these affiliate relationships could be a really meaningful complement to any sort of advertising that they may integrate. So by kind of bolstering the presence of the Echo Look in the fashion community, this might be a move to open the door to more partnerships like the ones that Amazon recently established with GQ and Vogue. So that's kind of where my head is in this context, and I'm really interested to see if these affiliate recommendations take on more of a presence in the experience of Echo Look, but also just these broader voice platforms.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:42:30] So that's great commentary all the way around, that's really interesting. That's a really interesting thought on the affiliate marketing side of it because I really haven't thought that all the way through. You're right, that's definitely going to be part of the equation. I want to ask both of y'all the question that sort of came to my mind and it especially came to my mind in terms of the HomePod discussion from earlier and just what a half-baked product that is. Why has Amazon not released this yet? And Anup you sort of spoke to this a minute ago, but I want to dig deeper. Tell me why, and I'll start with you Anup on this, why do you think that Amazon did not open this product up to purchasers yet? They just got you know, as William mentioned, GQ and Vogue are on board, they just had this thing in New York Fashion Week. Clearly it works well, it is part of how a lot of these folks are conducting themselves and their business operations for the fashion domain as you said. What are they waiting on?

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:43:37] I think what they're waiting on is the affiliate partnerships or partnerships with other Apple manufacturers so that we kind of look at it as an easy way to reduce friction in the purchases, as well as make the data on your body type available to all the Apple manufacturers.

 

William Nutt: [00:43:59] Yeah I really agree with what Anup said. I think it's about collecting data you know, experimenting with the product as it is now, to apply those findings to a much more sophisticated product that does a whole lot more than just make a single recommendation based on two outfits. I think you know obviously this is going to be very e-commerce oriented where it's doing everything it can to drive sales on Amazon. So I think preliminarily it's just collecting data, it's seeing how these trial users are using the product, and also like Anup said, forming partnerships with other brands toward a much, much bigger play.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:44:49] At the end of the day it's all an exciting place to be.

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:44:52] Absolutely.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:44:53] Gentlemen, thank you very, very much for your time today. This was a pleasure.

 

William Nutt: [00:44:57] Thank you so much Bradley. Anup, it was a great conversation. I appreciate being able to join you.

 

Anup Gosavi: [00:45:02] Absolutely, yeah it was great chatting with thank you guys. Thank you so much for having me.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:45:06] For This Week In Voice, Episode 4 of season 2, thank you for listening and until next time.

© 2017-2021 VoiceFirst.FM, a division of Score Publishing

Feedback on a podcast? Email VoiceFirstFM@gmail.com.