Vlingo, a Boston area voice recognition start-up, isn’t sweating the introduction last week of Apple’s Siri voice action and artificial intelligence system. In fact, the start-up saw its best week last week with five consecutive days of record usage: voice actions were up 50 percent daily over the previous high, the company told me.
Vlingo, which puts out a handful of voice recognition and virtual assistant apps for various phone platforms, is on a tear with 550 million voice actions in the third quarter of this year, up from 200 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. It also added 2.5 million users in the third quarter. The company has had more voice actions in 2011 than in the entire history of the company and the fourth quarter is shaping up to be another record breaker for Vlingo.
It’s a good sign for Vlingo and backs up CEO Dave Grannan’s initial hope that Siri would be a rising tide that lifts all voice technology boats. Of Vlingo’s 10 million users, 4 million are on the iOS platform. Vlingo’s latest boost may also be due to the company’s decision earlier this month to make its app completely free to help it compete with Siri. Said Grannan:
“The last 10 days have truly shown that the market has embraced the voice-powered Assistant. Apple announcing that Siri would be the centerpiece of the new iPhone 4S has had nothing but a positive impact for Vlingo. Vlingo saw its usage doubled following the announcement, and we have seen interest and activity at all-time highs in the week since. Clearly, Vlingo has been identified by customers and the media alike as a longtime leader in the market, and presently the best alternative for anyone without an iPhone 4S, including all Android and BlackBerry owners.”
Apple’s big extension into voice recognition should be a boost for Vlingo and Nuance as well as Google Voice Actions on Android and the speech recognition system built into Windows Phone 7.5. As I’ve written before, voice is increasingly a mobile technology and as most of the major smartphone platforms are now incorporating voice actions, it’s going to change the expectations of users, who will increasingly look at interacting with their phones through voice. Take a look at this infographic charting Vlingo’s growth.