Sleep Sounds Energize Alexa

A recent survey by Wakefield Research found that more than half (51%) of adults worldwide report getting less sleep than they need on an average night and that 80% are using weekends to make up for lost sleep. If you are trying to repay your sleep debt, your voice assistant may be just what the doctor ordered.

Our analysis of the music categories in both the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant stores found that ambient noise and sleep sounds applications are wildly popular and very well received among consumers compared to other genres. It also uncovered interesting differences between the platforms – for example, similar relaxation skills receive lower ratings on Google than they do on Amazon. These findings and more after the jump.

Image via the Amazon Echo Twitter account

Putting the Competition to Sleep

As of September 1, 2018, there were ~2,000 more Alexa music skills than Assistant music actions (3,691 vs. 1,674), and music was the second largest category by total number of applications (5,365 – Games was #1 with 6,648). In both popularity and prevalence, ambient noise and sleep sounds applications dominate the music category on Alexa: 95 of the top 100 most reviewed music skills were geared towards relaxation, and their collective average user rating was above 4.8 out of 5 stars (read: excellent). In contrast, podcasts are the most prevalent music actions on Assistant, and account for 85% of the inventory in that store.

Image via The Voice Developer Ecosystem Report (Pulse Labs)

(Un)natural Sleep Patterns

Interestingly, many seemingly identical relaxation skills receive up to 20% better ratings on Alexa than on Assistant. For example, 'Ambient Sounds: Thunderstorm Sounds' was the most popular relaxation skill for Alexa at the time of this analysis, with 13,944 reviews and a 4.9 star rating. The very similar 'Thunderstorm Sounds' was the third-most-popular relaxation action for Assistant, but registered just a 4.2 star rating. This curious trend held across the genre (see chart below) and the underlying causes warrant further investigation and discussion.

Image via The Voice Developer Ecosystem Report (Pulse Labs)

(One) Platform Bed

A final observation: we found that dozens of very popular ambient noise and sleep sounds applications on Amazon were not cross-published to Google as you might expect. In mobile games, for example, most every popular title has both an iOS (Apple) and Android (Google) version. This isn't the case, at least yet, with voice applications in general and relaxation apps in particular. We hope to delve into this phenomena in future posts.

[Interested in more insight and analysis of the voice ecosystem? Read our report on the State of Alexa Education Skills for Kids.]

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