Verto Index: Assistant Apps

This month’s Verto Index looks at the most popular (among U.S. adults, ages 18 and above) personal assistant apps powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) used on smartphones, from Siri to Amazon Alexa.

Click here to download the full report, Rise of the Machines: How AI-Driven Personal Assistant Apps Are Shaping Digital Consumer Habits.

The Top-Ranking AI-Powered Personal Assistant Apps on Smartphones

The AI-powered assistant app landscape has changed significantly over the past six years. Siri, one of the earliest mobile personal assistant apps, was integrated into the iPhone in October 2011; Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana debuted three years later. And Google has introduced a series of apps, including Google Now (released in 2012) and Allo (released in 2016).

Over the past year especially, the personal assistant apps sector has seen major user growth among certain apps, but this has also been accompanied by stagnation and even a decrease in users among some major players, such as Siri and S-Voice, the personal assistant app for Samsung devices.

While Siri is still the top-ranking personal assistant app based on number of unique monthly users, Verto Analytics data shows that between May 2016 and May 2017, Siri lost 7.3 million monthly users (nearly 15% of its total). While the Google-owned properties on our Index have enjoyed modest growth over the past year, emerging players like Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa are quickly gaining traction. Although its user numbers are comparatively tiny, Alexa has seen a 325% increase in monthly unique users (from 0.8 million to 2.6 million) during the past year, and Cortana has also seen a major jump in monthly unique user numbers, from 0.2 million to 0.7 million (a 350% increase).

The next six-to-12 months appear to offer even more volatility. In December, Apple will release the HomePod, its long-awaited competitor in the home speaker market; and Amazon is in the midst of rolling out a larger wider range of Alexa-powered hardware devices in addition to doubling down on its efforts to integrate Alexa into its existing app ecosystem.

Click here to download the full report, Rise of the Machines: How AI-Driven Personal Assistant Apps Are Shaping Digital Consumer Habits.

How Often Are Consumers Using Personal Assistant Apps Like Siri and Alexa?

User numbers are useful to examine, but they don’t tell the full story about consumer behavior. Instead, session metrics are a more accurate indication of how often consumers are actually using personal assistant apps.

Verto Analytics data shows that the amount of time consumers spend in these apps (as a percentage of total time spent in apps) is still tiny. Specifically, usage averages about 12 minutes per user, per month – or, less than 0.1% of the total time users spend in smartphone apps overall. And while personal assistant apps as a category have 71 million unique users per month, the average number of sessions per user per month and average session length still lag well behind search websites and search apps.

Who Uses Personal Assistant Apps?

According to Verto Analytics data, women use personal assistant apps slightly more frequently than men: women comprise 54% of the total user base for this category of apps. And interestingly, we see a trend toward personal assistant app usage in older age groups, especially adults in the 45-54 and 55+ age groups. In fact, users ages 45 and above comprise nearly half (48%) of the entire personal assistant app user base. Despite being a relatively new app category, personal assistant app users do not necessarily appear to conform to typical “early adopter” consumer profiles.

Click here to download the full report, Rise of the Machines: How AI-Driven Personal Assistant Apps Are Shaping Digital Consumer Habits.

How Engaging Are Personal Assistant Apps?

Stickiness is a metric that Verto uses to quantify user engagement by comparing daily users to monthly users. Our data shows that consumer engagement with key personal assistant apps has shifted significantly over the past year, especially as newer apps have gained a larger foothold in the market.

For example, our data shows that user engagement with Siri has also dropped significantly over the past year: between May 2016 and May 2017, Siri’s “Stickiness Index” dropped by nearly half – from 21% to 11%. Meanwhile, emerging players like Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa are quickly gaining traction. Although their user numbers are comparatively tiny, Alexa has more than doubled its stickiness rating over the past year, from 10% to 22%, while Cortana has seen its stickiness ratings triple, from 19% to 60%.

The Future of Personal Assistant Apps

The personal assistant app landscape is quickly evolving, and many of the biggest technology companies – including Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Samsung – have already released a constellation of apps, services, and devices aimed at tapping into this emerging market, with markedly different strategies.

As the personal assistant app landscape continues to mature, it will inevitably drive the evolution of user interfaces as well as  home screens and voice-guided interaction mechanisms; the whole paradigm of how consumers use mobile (and other) devices is rapidly changing. Over the next year, as new players continue to enter the market, consumer behavior will ultimately dictate which apps, services, and devices succeed.

Interested in learning more about the personal assistant app ecosystem? Click here to download the full report, Rise of the Machines: How AI-Driven Personal Assistant Apps Are Shaping Digital Consumer Habits.