Voice recognition seems to be a theme in my life lately. I just finished setting up Naturally Speaking on my wife’s computer, so she can save wear-and-tear on her joints by dictating instead of typing. Then I read a piece by David Pogue of the NY Times, about another terrific productivity tool: Voice mail services that take your calls and convert them into email text, for you to review, sort and save. Finally, I read about the device pictured here, which allows you to rattle off the groceries you need and have it assemble your marching orders as a finished list.
Someone has already commented on the engadget blog entry where I learned about this device that it will fail. The reason: You can buy a lot of groceries for its purchase price.
As a marketer, I would disagree for two reasons:
- The long tail — We’ve observed that nearly everyone listens to music, yet relatively few listen to any particular artist. Some really obscure artists have made successful careers for themselves, thanks to lowered distribution costs.* Because of this same long tail phenomenon, a $150 device will be bought by enough people to be a success, especially because the concept behind it is sticky.**
- It helps ease a reviled chore — In my entire life I’ve only known one person who actually enjoys buying groceries. Just one. Everyone else just wants the stuff to magically arrive in their kitchen. Although it doesn’t go that far, this Top 10 New Product winner (at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas) does help family members collaborate on a job almost nobody enjoys.
I predict it will do quite well. I’m also confident that this is the beginning of a trend in technology. There will be more voice recognition tools, helping us get more work done. And more often than you might imagine, they will be combined with the cell phone. Sooner rather than later.
In November I was speculating that some day in the distant future, mobile voice recognition would help automate the construction trade. This past week has made me think this future is closer than anyone might imagine.
*Watch for a post from me later this week on the future of the music industry, as music labels become nothing more than the distribution arm that a recording artist needs to survive.
**Watch for another post this week on the art of making a product or concept sticky. It’s a review of a great book that expounds on the last third of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.