Last week Apple launched its second-generation AirPods. Superficially there is little difference between these ones and their first-gen cousins. The charging indicator light has moved to the outside of the case on the new model, but that’s about it. However, the tech on the inside has changed significantly.
The new AirPods case can charge wirelessly and a single charge will now last for a pretty impressive 5 hours (almost a flight to New York) and recharge to give another three hours of listening time after just 15 minutes of charging (more than covering the distance to New York). But the biggest vaunted difference is the voice activated bit. The new AirPods are always listening – just waiting for ‘Hey Siri!’ meaning that if they are connected to your phone or watch AirPod owners have access to a virtual assistant without having to lift a finger, wherever they are, whatever they are doing. You might be in ther gym and get Siri to read you your emails, and type replies. You might be in the car and ask Siri for directions to the nearest petrol station or you might be arriving at your station and ask Siri to turn on the smart heating at home. Of course all of this is possible using your iPhone, but that involves taking it out of your pocket and interrupting whatever you were listening to!
So what does all this mean? Well first off speaking to virtual assistants as if they are real at any time in any place will become the norm and access to the Internet will increasingly come via voice. This is significant as in order to optimise the omnichannel customer experience brands will need to know how their customers are interacting. For instance have purchases or search requests been made by Alexa, Siri or Cortana or has a customer come through and made a purchase/search ‘traditionally’ on the website, app or via social channels? Data Management Systems need to be updated in order to capture this information as it will be vital for future segmentation and promotional decisions, not to mention SEO. Moreover, if an organisation’s data does not incorporate the share of search or purchases coming through voice it will be impossible to optimise the front end delivery system that will pull customers towards the brand.
These second generation AirPods will inevitably move more customers towards voice and as penetration grows organisations need to be prepared for voice to become the major way consumers; particularly digital natives, interact with the Internet.
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