The Voice App Theory – What makes a voice app impressive?

The goal of any new technology is to remove friction from people’s lives. This is especially the rallying cry of smart speakers, voices assistants, and the tens of thousands of voice skills they possess. The Amazon Echo and Google Home lineups exist to make our lives easier.

So how is it that a fictional character which speaks a language that nobody understands became a hit voice app in the Alexa Skill store?

I’m referring to the Pikachu Talk voice app, which is literally a voice app that allows anyone to have a conversation with Pikachu – the Pokemon which speaks in varying and repeating tonality of “Pika, Pika, Pika…”.

The Pokemon Company created an app whose only barrier to entry is imagination. People without an imagination, well, their curiosity will run thin after just a question or two. But those with a colorful imagination (like most children) fantasize entire conversations with Pikachu – potentially for hours.

The Pikachu Talk app proves that the success of voice apps is not dependent on creating clear value in people’s lives. It’s far more nuanced than that.

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Great Voice Apps

I believe there are two questions to consider when forecasting the success of a voice app and the applicability of it in people’s lives:

  • Is your Alexa skill a gimmick or is it impressive?
  • Is your Alexa Skill useful to a company from a marketing perspective?

Gimmick apps are flashy and momentarily grab attention. They’re great for press stunts and complementing a greater marketing campaign.

An impressive app, on the other hand, may not have the same rocketing success as a gimmick, but they are perennial and are useful across many environments. Very simple, impressive voice apps become habitual.

Otherwise, there are a variety of ways that voice apps can assist a company’s overall marketing objectives, including (but not limited to): increasing market awareness, adding to your earned media endeavors, and through immersive storytelling.

Let’s look at some examples.

Pikachu Talk

Absolutely, this voice app is a gimmick. But, it’s a gimmick that beautifully accents the greater marketing goals of keeping the Pokemon brand alive and it also helps there’s a newly released Detective Pikachu movie in theaters.

20 Questions

By nature, this game has been a perennial seller, always helping boring moments and long car rides pass by quicker. The 20 Questions voice app, I would even say, was an upgrade to the handheld version of 20 Questions I had growing up and was also more reliable than playing with friends (who may cheat halfway through). From a marketing perspective, this voice app does a great job increasing the brand presence of their name. The Jeopardy voice app accomplishes a similar feat.

Philips Hue

When paired with the Hue light bulbs, the Philips Hue voice app creates an experience greater than anything that can be achieved via a smartphone app. For instance, I’ve created a variety of mood settings at our office that correlate to different work goals. And because they are prompted by voice, there’s little to no friction involved in changing my office environment. Not to mention, they’re really creating an addiction to their product line-up that no other competitor can compete with currently.

The Division Network

The Division Network is a complementary skill for the video game Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. The skill enables die-hard fans of The Division 2 to fully immerse themselves in a mega-scale terrorist situation that accents the video game and the game’s marketing hype cycle. Additionally, due to its interactive story, it even informs fans about the upcoming game release in a way no 30-second TV commercial or Facebook ad ever could.

These are just a few of the successful voice apps out there today that have really encompassed many different molds. However, we’re really at the day one of this journey into the voice-driven digital life.

If you’re interested in hearing about what our lives will look like in 2025 thanks to the rapid developments in the voice industry, then you should join me this Wednesday, May 15th at 6 pm CST for my Digital Hangout on this topic. You can reserve your seat by clicking the link below:

rsvp to the Digital Hangout