Topic: Japanese Voice Market and Communities
Date: 19 January, 2021 6pm – 7pm (1hour)
Good morning US! It is 6 pm here now.
Hope you do everything well in this crazy situation.
I’m happy to speak here and Thanks to Karol for giving me this opportunity.
I’m Tomoharu Ito. Japanese. But I’m living in the Netherlands. Japan is currently 2 am. It’s hard to attend for most japanese people normally.
(But I can see some japanese names other than me.) haha..
It’s my introduction.
I’m the Alexa Champion in 2017, Now I’m working as a Freelancer, Product Manager, Developer, and also Community Organizer.
The focus of this meetup is the Japanese voice tech market and community.
I think that the surrounding Japanese voice situation is somewhat distinctive.
First I will show you a presentation. After then,
I’d like to talk together about Japan’s Voice Market (if any other curiosity of you is okay :))
I don’t have a good command of English yet, I follow this outline with you.
Today I brought 4 topics.
The first is Chaos Map in Voice Tech in Japan.
The second is a report of Customer research.
The third is a prediction from think tank on 2020. And the Consideration from number of alexa skills in Japan.
The last is the introduction of Japanese Voice community.
After that, I’d like to think of a short prediction for the 2021 of Japanese Voice Market.
If you have questions, put text on this chat, and ask me after the session. There is a discussion time.
Let’s take a look at the first topic.
First, I’d like to show a Chaos map of Japanese Voice Tech.
This was made by the Voicy. They are one of the leading company of Voice Tech startups in Japan.
You can find 4 Voice Assistants in the diagram.
Amazon Alexa, Google Actions, Apple Siri, and LINE Clova.
They have most of shares in the Japanese Voice Assistant Market.
Perhaps, US and European people didn’t see LINE not so much in their region. LINE is Korean Company. But They make their own SmartSpeaker. It’s called CLOVA WAVE
The first is the NTT Docomo, Biggest telecom company in Japan.
In that AI assistant, I can choose in more than 50 characters. This is a big difference to any other assistants.
The second is TOYOTA. As you know, The biggest car manufacturer in Japan. TOYOTA is trying to implement their own AI assistant as a Agent in their car.
With looking at the share of smart assistants. In 2019, the rate of households that have smart assistants is 7.6%.
This looks like the market is still small. I’d like to consider the cause of why people do not have a smart speaker on the next topic.
Let’s go to the next topic.
There is a research report about users from Amazon.
According to this report,
About 70% were satisfied with “playing music” and “setting alarms and timers,” as well as “operating from outside the home” and “operating home appliances by voice.
75% feel that they can now do things while they are at home, such as checking the weather forecast while doing housework or childcare.
Expectations are high for a life where everything can be operated by voice (80%)
the elderly and children can be watched more easily (69%).
I really agree that elderly care is so helpful with smart speakers.
I’d like to introduce 2 cases.
The first is of my mother.
My mother is currently in a care house. I can not meet her because of the distance(of course).
But even my younger brother, who lives close to my mother, also can not meet her by the strict regulations from the care house.
Fortunately, I’m familiar with Alexa and Echo Device. So I could set the Echo Show to her room. So now I often talk with my mother through Amazon Echo. That’s one of the most helpful situations to use SmartSpeaker. Additionally, My mother does not have any IT literacy. But by using the Drop In function, She can talk with us and she doesn’t need to worry about anything.
This is the first case.
The second is From friends.
She usually uses a SmartSpeaker to measure the weight of her child for daily check when she can not do any operation by holding him by her hands.
This is the second case.
I think there is not much difference between Japan and other countries on how to use SmartSpeaker.
These 2 cases are the good examples that Situation matched to SmartSpeakers.
In spite of good examples already exists,
Why are smart speaker households still less in Japan?
I guess there are 2 reasons.
The one is there are some cases that people make disappointed from Smart Speaker UX.
When SmartSpeaker came at first, Users expected that SmartSpeaker would be higher and richer than GUI.
But the SmartSpeaker could not achieve even simple instruction.
Also, Providers, Developers(including me) had tried to make an alternative to GUI.
That was bad.
So many voice apps and device functions were not suitable to the situations and user needs.
I had been talking that SmartSpeaker selects situations. In other words, Voice interaction depends on the situation more than GUI.
Developers(also providers) should consider suitable situations in which their device (also Voice application) would be matched.
Actually, I saw a lot of disappointing opinions from the users. less than their expectations.
Big expectations pushed behind some rejection.
Of course, This is my opinion, But We need to increase more positive, safer, and helpful experience to the users. Need more suggestions to the market.
Prediction from the report from think tank and consideration from a number of the Alexa Skill
In 2020, This is a report from one of the Think Tank.
According to the report, They said more players are needed in the market.
I agree with their opinion. I think that device makers are still few. Also Companies still not in the mood willing to use the voice as another channel for their customers.
Also, There is another report about Alexa Skills.
Take a look at the number of Alexa Skills per country.
Currently, Japan has approximately 3500 alexa skills.
This number is less than Spain’s and Italy’s one. although Alexe was born earlier than Spain’s, and Italy’s Alexa.
In my insights, There are 2 reasons.
- Less situation to use in Japan
- Shortage products around the SmartSpeaker(Because of Cost unmatching)
First is the environmental problem. People do not need multiple smart speakers. Because Japanese House is smaller than the US. Normally, It’s enough to just have one smart speaker in your house.
Second is that Device makers, and developers always are behind on the Original. I felt that the Certification Process for the release of Alexa BuiltIn Device seems a bit strict.
And also, Developers who do not have their own device, It is much harder to find and make a difference from competitors. To achieve ideal interaction with Users by Voice is still hard.
That means monetization is still difficult with voice apps. To make more players, I think that Amazon(also other primaries) need giving help to make new conceptual devices and more open space.
I think that the ecosystem would be better to become more open to the developers. (I understand that security is the big issue for them).
That’s my insight into why the Japanese market is still small.
Let’s talk about these topics after the session.
Fortunately, Many passionators of Voice Tech people live in Japan. Designers, Developers, Marketers, Researchers, and so on. They are willing to develop something around the voice.
Also There are many Tech(also user) communities.
I’d like to introduce several.
if you interested in some meetup, You can attend online. many meetups take place around 7pm JST, In Europe, around the noon. In the US.. maybe midnight.
This is the good prospection for 2021 AI assistant.
According to the above prediction, People will be interacting with devices more with their voice.
Because the Interaction of Smartphone gradually shift to the voice. Google released a feature which you can call specific feature of android app by voice. Also Apple already has a similar feature it’s called the Siri shortcut.
Alexa also has a similar one it’s called Name-free-interaction
In 2021, Voice Interaction will be more customizable, and will be increasing number of times which people interact by their voice to something.
Of course, Voice Assistants will be grow by more learnings too.
Today, I told some negatively insights, But in other word, Japanese Voice Space has still big potential.
Let’s enjoy and explore more humanic experiences through Voice Technology.