World News:

The Rise of Podcasts?
From the acquisition of Gimlet by Spotify last month to more than 660’000 shows to date, there is definitely something happening in the Podcast world. The fact that Podcasts are cheap to produce and easy to distribute definitely contributed to the growth of the category. With new monetization possibilities such as advertising and paywalls, those are now becoming real businesses and investors are looking at it. Link (New York Magazine)

With Jetblack, Walmart is gearing up for the Voice shopping battle against Amazon.
The employees of Walmart’s Jetblack personal-shopping service are training algorithms to respond more effectively to customer requests. Walmart sees the service as a research hub for testing AI and voice shopping as the world’s biggest retailer scrambles to expand market share online. Link (Wall Street Journal)

Erica, Bank of America’s assistant has now more than 6 million users.
Bank of America (BofA) AI-powered digital assistant known as Erica has now more than 6 million users and processed 35 million clients requests to date. This is impressive for a service that was made available to the public a year ago. Among the most popular features are transaction search and proactive insights. Customers of BofA could interact with Erica via texting, tapping options on their phone’s screen or via voice commands. Links (American Banker, Bank of America)

European News:

BMW launches an advertising campaign on Alexa and Google Assistant in France.
In conjunction with the launch of its new Serie 3, BMW launched its first communication campaign exclusively on smart speakers. Every time a user will ask for news, a 15 seconds spot will be broadcasted just before the flash briefing, the message starting with “For you who just asked for news, do you know that with BMW digital personal assistant, you could ask the same to your BMW Serie 3”. Maybe a glimpse into advertising possibilities on smart speakers. Link (Journal de la Voix – article in French)

5% of Dutch households adopt smart speakers in just 4.5 months.
Research firm Kantar TNS reported that 5% of households in the Netherlands are now using smart speakers. The market is dominated by Google Home which supports Dutch launched in October 2018.  Alexa doesn’t yet support Dutch and lag behind with about 1% usage. Link (Voicebot)

A Google Home Mini offered for new Spotify Family subscription.
Listening to Music is one of the main usages of voice assistants and Spotify plans on leveraging this to win new subscribers. A potential win-win deal with Google which will also penetrate households that way. The offer is currently valid in the UK and France. Links (Voicebot, Journal de la Voix – article in French)

Alexis Hue

Alexis Hue

Alexis is the founder of Voice & You, a boutique consulting agency where he advises brands on how to utilize Voice to increase their competitive advantage. Part-time venture capitalist, part-time entrepreneur, and originally from France, Alexis now lives in Berlin.