I had the chance to review the Innovator’s Dilemma today and try to apply it to the current state of voice. You can catch up on it here or here. When applying it to how things have shaped up in voice, it’s easier to see how incumbents like Nuance might be falling behind Google (and Amazon).
When we were pitching for ambient voice interaction to VCs, almost none of them saw the current market coming. Rationally, it didn’t make sense for companies to build in this area. They just needed to built better speech recognition and AI for cars and phones. While we were in the space early with the Ubi, we were on the lower left side of the curve — before the market had grown and when significant revenue could be earned. With sufficient capital to finance through this time, the Ubi might have been able to become a leading product like the Echo (I’m patting UCIC on the back).
When Amazon decided to take the plunge into Echo, it was essentially disrupting itself by betting on something far outside of a sustaining innovation (e.g. improving the algorithm for its product search or ranking). This was a brave move, even though I hated it at the time.
However, is Echo and Alexa a disruptive technology… yet? It is definitely disrupting the home WiFi / BT speaker market as a direct competitor. It is likely disrupting the use of other virtual assistants like Siri or Google Assistant. As it gets adopted by automakers, it will definitely be disrupting Nuance, which has seen automative as a cash cow.
Although we’re still far from seeing the end of this curve (maybe 3–4 years), it might be useful for entrepreneurs to look at the next disruption after ambient voice assistants.