Will Radio Become Obsolete as Smart Speakers Become Popular

There is a market that is exploding on the Atlantic side (USA and UK) that will revolutionize listening to music , will change our habits and will increase even more the number of hours spent listening to our favorite artists: they are smart speakers . Objects of design (we would miss) that respond to our voice commands. “Alexa, I want a playlist at 90 bpm to do exercises”, say if you use Amazon Echo. Or “Ok Google, do you make me feel the new song of Calcutta, the one with the name of a footballer?”, If instead you are happy owners of Google Home.

You will talk to them, they will listen to you and grant your musical desires . It is no longer a click, there are no hypertexts, we are in the phase of artificial intelligence that processes in a semantic way. What will we listen to then? How will we make our selections? Will we try the thrill of listening to roulette? Will we choose the butler speaker?

Some numbers on the use of smart speakers
To make you understand the impact of these devices in our lives we use the numbers : for Music Ally the rosea forecast is that by the end of 2018 will be sold about 60 million intelligent speakers, doubling the number of 2017, while in 2016 production will it was only 5 million stopped. For 2022, the forecasts speak of 175 million smart speakers in over 75 million American apartments. Already by the end of this year, in emerging countries like Brazil, China and India, smart speakers will serve a third of the resident population.

The commercial aspect is impressive, but impressive is the speed of their distribution compared to other supports: the smart speakers will reach 50% of the American population in less than 5 years. To give you an example, the phones took almost 7 years, the TV about 13, the radio 20. And it is the radio that pay the highest price, because those who use smart speakers spend 40% less time on the stations FM. A radical change, probably the one that will affect our behavior more heavily because it will act on the experiential factor, on the convenience of use and on the accuracy of the answers to our questions. In addition to moving away from radio stations, smart speakers will “report” us to a more conscious use of listening because they will allow us to live a different experience from the usual.

Speaking again of numbers and surveys, 34% of users using Amazon Echo or Google Home spend more than four hours a day listening to music, compared to 24% of “common” users, even if the audio quality does not affect that much on the choice of the amplifier: only 7% of the owners made a choice based on the purity of the sound, while 14% made their choice based on the accuracy of the speech recognition. They will earn the streaming services, because 48% of the smart speaker owners subscribe to Spotify , Deezer and other Digital Service Providers. And we will also gain our “digital health” because dialogue with Alexa, Cortana or Siri will make us use less the smartphone (- 34%), TV (- 30%), the tablet (- 27%) and the computer (- 26%, Edison Research data for NPR).

And maybe it will also convince us to leave the house when the “skills” of the smart speakers will be integrated with other features, such as those to buy concert tickets . Our tastes will be linked to the TicketOne database for example, and we will find ourselves on the Google Calendar all the organized trip: flight booking, hotel, car rental, tickets, VIP Pass and dinner booked.

The potential of smart speakers
After the beating of Google Glass now they go more cautiously to Mountain View, but we can not deny that their hunger for data is insatiable, in this case in addition to knowing our habits will also know what types we are, the sound of our voice and how we make choices, up to the composition of the sentence.

Put so frightened, but listen to this: in Arkansas the police intervene on the scene of a crime, a man was found strangled in his hot tub; in the house, on display, the agents find an amplifier. At first they notice only the design, but they do not pay attention to the type of speaker they have in front of them: an Amazon Echo. This smart speaker that is used with voice commands, includes a recorder that can “listen” to words, process them, process them, transmit them remotely and respond to the request. Amazon Echo was the first witness to be questioned, in the hope that he would also listen to the murderer’s voice. Amazon, the data holder, rejects the request for the investigation, but then grant the data after the only person investigated had cleared.

Now maybe, it scares even more. But if we leave aside the various datagades: how will these smart speakers affect listening to music?

“Hi Alexa”
“Good morning Fabrizio”
“I would like to listen to Colapesce’s last album ”
“Okay, but would not you prefer a morning playlist to give you a little charge?”
“No thanks, I prefer Colapesce”

If instead I’m connected with a fit watch:

“Hello Alexa”
“Good morning Fabrizio, I noticed that you did not have a restful sleep, I suggest you listen to music for a sweet and harmonious awakening”
“Thanks Alexa, I wanted to listen to Colapesce but maybe you’re right”

Here, Artificial Intelligence will use its rhetorical component to advise you on a specific listening? How much will affect our choices, perhaps even recommending a purchase on Amazon Prime?


“Ok Google”
“Good morning Fabrizio, I noticed that yesterday you watched some videos of Young Signorino, do you want me to send his videos on TV?”
“But it’s morning and I have to have breakfast again”
“So I suggest you go to Bar XXX that have a 30% discount on cappuccino and croissant ”
” No thanks ”
” Then I propose you a purchase of a coffee machine with capsules ”

But there is a less dystopic behavior, that is the possibility of doing more detailed research , such as: “Alexa, I want to listen to all the tracks composed by Tommaso Paradiso “, or “Ok Google, let me listen to all the songs in Spanish sung by Laura Pausini “. Surely the competence will come through which the smart speaker will recognize a song humming or whistling the tune. But will they be choices linked to commercial agreements? And how big will our area of freedom be? Where will the posts be fixed? For now it is about design, technology and experience, but above all the smart IQ of the smart speaker.


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