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Presented by Verto Analytics

Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed the rise of AI-powered apps, which use artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and cloud-based natural language processes to accomplish everyday tasks. In many ways, these apps, such as Amazon Alexa, are providing a next-generation user experience for accessing digital content and performing everyday tasks. Many of these apps provide a more contextually-driven, seamless way for consumers to perform tasks like checking news, weather, or directions. But just how prevalent are these apps in consumers’ daily lives? And how often are they actually being used?

Verto Analytics recently analyzed personal assistant app usage among its panel of U.S. consumers between May 2016 and May 2017 and ranked the most popular AI-powered apps used on smartphones, including Amazon’s Alexa, Siri, and Google-owned properties.  While some personal assistant apps have seen some major user growth, in general, this sector has experienced stagnation and even a decrease in users among certain apps like Siri.

The data shows that 44 percent of all smartphones in the U.S. (owned by adults ages 18 and over) had a personal assistant app that was used at least once in May 2017. While this is a greater share than the 34 percent of smartphones that had a search app (such as Wikipedia, Yelp, or the Google search app) installed and used during the same time period, it still significantly lags behind the use of website-based search: 87 percent of the smartphones in the U.S. had a web browser installed and used a search website during May 2017.

Despite the 44 percent app reach of personal assistant apps, Verto Analytics data reveals that the amount of time consumers spend in these apps (as a percentage of total time spent in apps) is still very small. Specifically, usage averages about 12 minutes per user, per month — or, less than 0.1 percent of the total time users spend in smartphone apps overall. In fact, during the past 12 months, consumers seem to have spent even less time using such apps: while the average number of personal assistant app users overall has remained relatively stable, the average amount of time spent per user has actually decreased over the same time period.

We also discovered the following consumer behavior trends:

  • Phone-based personal assistant apps, such as Siri and S-Voice, are slowly falling in popularity, with one exception: navigation and maps.
  • Usage of personal assistant apps peaks at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and experiences a steady climb from 2 p.m.-7 p.m, before dropping off in the evening. Personal assistant apps are often used before or after Google Maps — and people generically are using personal assistant apps when they are moving from place to another, and when they are commuting.
  • The personal assistant ‘superuser’  — someone who spends more than twice as much time on this category of apps as the average consumer — is a 52-year old female who spends 1.5 hours per month on personal assistant apps. The personal assistant apps users base skews towards older women, which is a demographic population that traditionally falls outside of the expected early adopter user base.
  • While 44 percent of smartphones had a personal assistant app that was used at least once in May 2017, users spend only 12 minutes per month on these kinds of apps.

Despite the early hype, the research shows that AI-driven personal assistant apps have yet to gain a sturdy foothold among consumers. While the reason for the lack of consumer adoption of these apps is still being investigated, we need to remember that the user base for these apps is still quite low, and the availability of content and use cases on mobile is restrictive.

Second, as personal assistant services are now embedded into devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo, this means that people have less interest or need to use the apps on their smartphones. From the rise of multitasking to the continued influence of cross-device behavior, one thing is clear: consumer habits are changing faster than before, aided by an increasingly fast technology and device innovation cycle.

Interested in learning more about how personal assistant apps are impacting consumer behavior? Download the full report, Rise of the Machines: How AI-Driven Personal Assistant Apps Are Shaping Digital Consumer Habits.

Connie Hwong is Content Director at Verto Analytics. 

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