The number of digital assistants will likely match world population by 2021

May 22, 2017Uncategorized0 comments

icon-1968243_640The number of devices with digital assistants built-in will grow to over 7.5 billion in 2021, claims research and consulting firm Ovum in its Digital Assistant and Voice AI-Capable Device Forecast for 2016 to 2021, which, according to, will match the 7.5-7.7 billion world population.

In this report, Ovum looks at the various digital assistants currently available and discusses their past and future. For example, in 2016, about 3.5 billion active devices were already on the market, with over 95 percent of the installed base for Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant in North America alone. Of Apple’s Siri base, 24% was in North America.

Ovum says the number of active devices will only grow as more types of devices (like ovens, refrigerators and cars) introduce digital assistants. Most devices hosting digital assistants now are phones, but with the increase us of smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google home, the coverage for assistance will continue to expand.

Google Assistant is expected to continue its dominance, followed by Siri and, surprisingly, Samsung’s Bixby. Further behind will be assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. By 2021, 47.6$ of voice Ai-capable devices is expected to be in Asia and Oceania, and digital assistants of Chinese origin are set to be as powerful as Siri. Chinese virtual assistants already account for 43 million of the 7.5 billion devices in 2016.

The 2021 share is predicted to be as follows:


While we think of smartphones and speaker devices as being the hub for voice assistants, Ovum sees smart TVs, set-top boxes and media streaming devices as accounting for 57% of the 2021 install base.

In addition, language and international presence will affect these predictions. With markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East growing rapidly, whichever device taps into the consciousness of these emerging marketing most will grow more quickly as well.

“Ultimately, a digital assistant is just another user interface. It will only be as good as the ecosystem of devices and services that it is compatible with. Partnerships between tech giants and local service providers will therefore be key differentiators,” said Ronan de Renesse, practice leader for Ovum’s consumer technology team and author of the report.

“There is a disconnect between the ‘know-it-all, do-it-all’ approach that current digital assistants are aiming toward and the highly personalized virtual assistance experience that consumers have dreams/nightmares about,” de Renesse goes on to say. “Whoever can bring personal consumer data in a secure, non-creepy way to digital assistance will be able to bridge that gap and capture most of the opportunity.”