Wireless Users Lean Toward Voice-Centric Devices

Voice-centric devices, those with the ability to send and receive both voice and data communications, are expected to remain more popular with wireless Internet users than data-centric devices such as PDAs and interactive pagers, according to ResearchPortal.com.

The percentage of US wireless service users that will use voice-centric devices will increase from 43 percent in 2000 to 72 percent in 2001, ResearchPortal.com found, and a clear separation from data-centric devices will occur over the next 24 months. The overall functionality expected from voice-centric will be more suited for wireless Internet use. Data-centric devices will continue to find success in a rapidly growing market for devices with non-Internet-related applications.

Type of Device Wireless
Users Expect to Use
Device Next 12
Next 24
Data-centric 39% 19%
Voice-centric 43% 72%
Notebook PC
10% 4%
Other 9% 5%
Source: ResearchPortal.com

According to data compiled by Media Metrix, 7.4 million US households in July 2000 owned non-PC digital devices, including cellular phones, PDAs and pagers, that receive data from the Internet and other digital networks such as short messaging systems (SMS). This represents a 12 percent increase, or 48 percent annualized growth, from April 2000 when 6.6 million households reported owning non-PC digital devices.

“Handheld devices are expanding access to the Internet and other data services,” said Bruce Ryon of Media Metrix’ New Media Group. “Almost 1.4 million, or about 20 percent of the households who own these devices, do not own a PC. Moreover, between April and June 2000, ownership of these non-PC devices grew twice as fast among households without PCs than households with PCs. The largest growth in non-PC households is in wireless phones.”

The internet.com Wireless Services Survey, which asked more than 1,000 Internet professionals for their opinions on the wireless Internet, found that 87 percent of its respondents have used, or plan to use, the Wireless Web within a year. Two-thirds of those surveyed currently own a digital cell phone, with 8 percent planning to buy one within the year. Thirty-four percent currently own a PDA, with 39 percent planning to buy one within the year.

The speech-recognition industry may be the big winner if phones do indeed rule the wireless-device market. Voice recognition tools will likely be used as a key component to accessing the wireless Web in the future, according to research by Allied Business Intelligence (ABI).

ABI predicts that voice portals, a new and growing segment of the speech recognition industry, will provide easier Internet access to fixed and mobile users. As speech recognition systems provide newer and more advanced features and applications, these systems will provide solutions to address a plethora of new industries and markets.

“At the moment, users can check their email, get information about stocks, weather, driving directions, and traffic conditions, but in the near future voice portal companies will introduce much more involved and worthwhile applications,” said ABI analyst Anna Karampahtsis, author of ABI’s report “Voice Recognition Systems.”

According to the study, the number of mobile voice users will grow from nearly 1 million users in 2001 to more than 56 million in North America by the end of 2005. There will be approximately 2,00 voice sites by 2001, with 250,000 sites predicted by the end of 2005. ABI also predicts that speech authentification/verification technologies will make purchases and transactions through voice less complex, increasing business revenues from v-commerce. The v-commerce market will reach $50 billion by 2005.

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