5 reasons why I’m excited about Audio

(Disclaimer: Working on something exciting and new in the audio/voice space, but we’re still in stealth mode — you can DM me on the internets to find out more)

I was recently listening to the podcast mentioned here this is where Marc Andressen the legendary investor and thinker about technology said:

Audio is going to be titanically important — Marc Andressen

Now it’s worth digging deep into why that’s the case. Here are 5 reasons I’m excited about audio/voice tech. And why I think we’ve only scratched the surface of what can be built in that space.

  1. Airpods

This chart from Nick Pappageorge shows one estimate from Loup ventures, although other estimates are lower. However, anecdotally I counted my overground carriage into work last week and I saw about 25% of people wearing airpods or airpods pro. I also saw a lot of other people wearing other sorts of headphone hardware. Now I do work in Shoreditch, London. So my exposure might be not representative.

Nevertheless, when I speak to people wearing them

  • They wear them all the time (habits)
  • They feel comfortable wearing them even when having a conversation (social convention changing)
  • They wear them to feel less alone. (deep human desire)

So we’ve got devices that are at potentially 100 million unit sales (that’s significantly more than VR headsets — the last estimate I saw was 20 million unit sales) and they’ve hit the sort of market penetration that the iPhone had in 2012.

I think this will lead to things like immersive audio experiences, and new kinds of social audio

2. Rise of voice-first interfaces such as smart speakers

It’s worth taking a step back from audio and thinking about what it actually enables. What is driving this audio consumption?

The job to be done is something like ‘I want to be entertained or informed but I can’t look at a screen’.

This is driven by whether you’re driving, doing the washing at home, commuting, whatever. Or on your feet at work.

So how do we interact with audio? Well, a very natural interface is using voice and these interfaces are already mainstream — Alexa is a mainstream word.

We’re already seeing the rise of these, and I imagine we’ll see even more such interfaces and the human acceptance to use them at say work environments.

3. Podcasts are going mainstream

This one doesn’t need much explanation but podcasts are booming and a fast-growing industry. See the acquisitions of Gimlet and Anchor by Spotify.

A16z analysis of the podcast ecosystem

Podcasts are growing at breakneck speed, and it’s staggering that 65% of active listeners only started listening in the last three years.

So we’re seeing strong secular tailwinds in podcasts, and the rise of other forms of audio entertainment. There’s a huge demand for picks and shovels in that space.

4. Social networks on audio will happen — but what will it look like?

This is the one I’m most fuzzy on but imagine like a WhatsApp for voice/audio. Where you’re in some sort of social network for audio. The closest example I can see is TTYL seems to be working on snapchat for voice messages.

Worth a read — As written by Jordan Cooper in an excellent post: Fortnite & airpods have unlocked a new form of presence.

I’ll explore this one more in the future. However, it’s such an intriguing idea I wanted to mention it.

5. Audio in the workplace

Some of my friends who are salespeople have already remarked that their sales team wear airpods all day long, this makes sense — you’re either calling someone or you’re listening to audio all day long. It doesn’t make sense to take them out of your ears. This point was also made in.

Audio especially when accelerated — I listen to podcasts at high speed — allows higher throughput learning. And we’re already seeing experimentation in this area such as Whispr which is building tools for the education/training of frontline workers such as hospitality workers.

Call to action

I’m working on some exciting tooling in this space. If you’re a brand, influencer or podcast host with say interest in new audio creation tooling, I’d love to talk to you :)

https://twitter.com/Springcoil is my Twitter

Or I’m firstnamelastname[at]gmail.com

Cofounder of www.Aflorithmic.ai building www.api.audio a simple developer tools for adding audio to your applications