BBC has confirmed that the company will launch its own voice assistant next year. But the voice assistant will not be launched together with a new Smart Speaker, it will be a platform-independent assistant. “Beeb”, as the assistant is called, will work on all Smart Speakers, TVs and mobiles.
Doubts about the new Voice Assistant
Analyst Ben Wood, of CCS Insight, has his doubts that BBC will have difficulties asserting themselves against the tech giants Amazon, Google and Apple. For example, Amazon already has 35% of the market shares in the field of smart speakers. These companies would simply have much more capital to solve the problems that arise along the way.
And he also criticizes the wake-word “Beeb”:
“Typically voice assistants use a multi-syllable word or phrase such as Alexa or Hey Google to ensure accurate identification. I fear Beeb might end up being unreliable,”
But of course, there are also reasons why the Voice Assistant will be independent of the Smart Speakers. BBC simply does not want to be inhibited by others in their possibilities: “experiment with new programmes, features and experiences without someone else’s permission to build it in a certain way.” Also, the wake-word worked perfectly on all tests.
He continues: “Much like we did with BBC iPlayer, we want to make sure everyone can benefit from this new technology, and bring people exciting new content, programmes and services – in a trusted, easy-to-use way,”
Mark Tluszcz, co-founder and CEO of Mangrove Capital Partners, also added an important point, pointing out that Google, Amazon and Apple also compete directly with BBC as media companies: “Voice technology represents a major platform and interface shift so it makes the BBC highly susceptible to disruption by the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google, all of which have aggressive plans in the media industry,” and that now also other companies have to think about whether a simple skill or an action is enough: “Every company will need to rethink how it interacts with its audience. It is not just about adapting SEO efforts and owning Alexa Skills or Google Actions.”
Before that, the BBC had already taken content from different third-party services, such as the podcasts of all Google products and the radio stations of tunnels, because they could not provide them with enough data to develop it any further.
Now they have solved the data problem with their own voice assistant, but they will now face new problems.