Apple’s Siri is still the top-ranking personal assistant, but active users declined 15% YOY

Verto Analytics today released a new report titled “Rise of the Machines: How AI-Driven Personal Assistant Apps Are Shaping Digital Consumer Habits.”

The report analyzed mobile app usage of U.S. consumers between May 2016 and May 2017, based on Verto Analytics’ consumer-centric audience measurement methodology, ranking the most popular AI-powered apps used on smartphones including Amazon’s Alexa, Siri and Google-owned properties.

Verto Analytics found that usage of personal assistants apps – apps which use artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and cloud-based natural language processes to accomplish everyday tasks, such as messaging, navigation, accessing entertainment content or searching information – has shown spotty growth and even some decline among consumers. While some personal assistant apps have seen some major user growth, in general, this sector has experienced stagnation and even a decrease in users among certain apps like Siri. In its analysis of the actual usage of personal assistants apps on mobile devices, Verto Analytics discovered the following consumer behavior trends:

Phone-based personal assistant apps, such as Siri and S-Voice, are slowly falling in popularity, with one exception: navigation and maps. Usage of personal assistant apps peaks at 10am, 1pm, and experiences a steady climb from 2pm-7pm, before dropping off in the evening. Personal assistant apps are often used before or after Google Maps – and people generically are using personal assistant apps when they are moving from place to another, and when they are commuting

The personal assistant ‘super user’— someone who spend more than twice as much time on this category of apps as the average consumer — is a 52-year old female who spends 1.5 hours per month on personal assistant apps. The personal assistant apps users base skews towards older women, which is a demographic population that traditionally falls outside of the expected early adopter user base.

While 44 percent of smartphones had a personal assistant app that was used at least once in May 2017, users spend only 12 minutes per month on these kinds of apps.

“Despite all the hype, AI-driven personal assistant apps have yet to gain a sturdy foothold among consumers,” said Hannu Verkasalo, CEO of Verto Analytics, in a statement. “AI-driven apps and services are still very much in their early days. As this market grows and we examine consumer adoption of these apps, it will be important for brands and publishers to understand how and when consumers are using them, and with what other apps and services.”

The report also goes beyond user numbers with “day in the life” data, which illustrates the actual usage of the personal assistant apps during the course of the day. Verto also conducted a funnel analysis of consumer activity to identify which apps consumers use before and after personal assistant apps, in understanding the overall context of usage.

Other findings from the report include:

• While Siri is still the top-ranking personal assistant app based on number of unique monthly users, between May 2016 and May 2017 Siri’s active user base declined with 7.3 million monthly users (nearly 15 percent of its total) – at the same time Android mobile devices have gained popularity

• User engagement with Siri has also dropped significantly over the same time period: the app’s “Stickiness Index” (a metric that quantifies engagement by comparing daily users to monthly users) dropped by nearly half – from 21 percent to 11 percent.

• Amazon’s Alexa has seen a 325 percent increase in monthly unique users (from 0.8 million to 2.8 million) during the past year, and has more than doubled its stickiness rating, from 10 percent to 22 percent.

• Microsoft’s Cortana has also seen a significant jump in monthly unique user numbers, from 0.2 million to 0.7 million (a 350 percent increase), with stickiness ratings tripling from 19 percent to 60 percent.

• Verto’s single-source measurement methodology is based on behavioral data gathered from a panel of opt-in consumers that own and use multiple devices. Verto measures from the point of consumer interaction across all platforms, media, content and devices.

More info in the 2017 Personal Assistant Apps Report here.

Source: Verto Analytics

MacDailyNews Take: The consequences of Apple’s glacial pace at improving Siri over the years are self-evident.

As of today, Siri still works best on our Apple Watches. Whether that’s because of microphone quality of placement on our wrists or whatever, when we want to use Siri and we’re at our desks surrounded by Siri-capable Macs, iPhones, and iPads, we choose to use our Apple Watches because Siri is just more reliable and noticeably better on Apple Watch.

Perhaps HomePod, where voice is the method of controlling Apple’s smart Siri speaker, will prompt dissatisfied users to give Siri another try.

Siri’s current placement, given its massive head start and the fact that HomePod (and for that matter, iMac Pro) won’t ship until “December” (meaning not until Q1 2018 in quantity) is an appalling display of utter mismanagement. — MacDailyNews, June 7, 2017

It’s a good thing for Tim Cook and Apple’s brass that Steve Jobs left them the iPhone to mask over all of their mistakes that the casual observer can’t even see, but which are painfully obvious to the rest of us.MacDailyNews, June 6, 2017

Apple seeks Siri Event Maven ahead of HomePod launch – June 27, 2017
Video showdown: Apple’s Siri vs. Google Assistant – June 16, 2017
How Apple’s once-revolutionary Siri lost its edge – June 7, 2017
Lazy Apple. It’s not hard to imagine Steve Jobs asking, ‘What have you been doing for the last four years?’ – December 9, 2016


  1. My kids’ most frequent comments about Siri are:

    “My Siri hates me.” and “I hate Siri.”

    An inauspicious beginning to be sure. It’s probably a problem of too high expectations. Still, one wonders if Siri will keep being upgraded or at some point if a new AI brand name will need be chosen, akin to MobileMe shifting to iCloud.

    1. about many situations/people, including you.

      Perhaps they don’t know how to use Siri properly? Perhaps they are asking it to do things for which it was not designed? Perhaps they are attempting to use voice commands in noisy situations? Perhaps they are using slang terminology?

      My experience with Siri has been pretty good, overall. And I have no doubt that Siri will continue to improve over time.

      Apple priorities personal privacy over commercialization and potential functionality. One of the things that people have to decide is if they are willing to achieve increased personal assistant functionality at the expense of large companies like Google collecting, aggregating, and selling their personal data. Apple does not do that and, to some extent, that hinders Apple’s ability to expand Siri’s functionality.

      1. Well I use SIRI more than I should and it is getting worse not better. Things that used to work especially on Apple TV don’t work anymore.

        Part of the reason Siri is getting so much traffic is because we have to ask the same question many times to get to the answer we should have gotten the first time.

        1. Where I try to use Siri, and where it should really help, is when I am driving and want to find some store or restaurant quickly. I’ll ask Siri to show me X near me. If she even gets the place I am looking for correct and shows a place on the map in the Siri response, it is usually not what I want. I’m doing this while driving so I can’t just stare at the screen. By the time is see what she is showing me and want to try the next option, the Siri screen disappears. It ends up being useless. I have to pull over and google the damn location manually.

      2. Yeah, those darn kids are probably holding Siri wrong! 😉

        Got my now 10.5″ 512Gb 4G + WiFi Space Grey iPad Pro at last, ANNNNND LOVING IT! So glad I didn’t go with the largest one. This is the sweet spot, for me anyway. That extra screen is more than enough to mollify the desire for more screen space. If the screen ever goes edge to edge it will an even greater challenge for case makers. Now I can’t wait for iOS 11 – the greatest mobile OS upgrade in YEARS.

  2. A large amount of info videos or a comprehensive PDF that shows every conceivable Siri command with examples would benefit everyone greatly.

    Apple used to be king of great, useful manuals. Now they just expect users to stumble across features?

    1. There is no such thing as a list of commands for Siri – just subjects (domains) it understands. It would be impossible to build a list of commands for Siri, it is not a voice command system. It is a natural language processor. The same thing can be said in many different ways. And the key is to break down the language (any language) and understand intent within the context of the subject.

  3. MDN is on the money on this. Apple gets a new toy and then minutes after it’s release, utterly ignores it. It’s like they have a team to make they toy, and since the company is run by 5 next dudes that are needed for the next task, one dude from the janitorial group whose sole resource is a red stapler is left to tend to the new toy project. This happens time after time with apple. iTunes neglect and bloat is another great example.

  4. It’s true. I’ve seen AI like HAL, seen HAL in low monotones action and Siri is no HAL.

    Of course Siri hasn’t tried to kill me yet or read my lips through glass either so I guess I count my blessings there.

  5. So what’s S-Voice? It’s actually spelled S Voice. It’s the crappy Samsung personal assistant software that can’t speak Engrish well.

    NOTE that this article indicates no examination of the use of Siri on Mac, introduced with macOS Sierra.

    As usual, I’ll point out that actual ‘AI’ (artificial intelligence) remains an abstract that doesn’t actually exist. What we have for now is advanced expert systems with voice and voice recognition software grafted on top.

    Of course, expert systems are still called ‘AI’, but the best compromise I’ll make in my rhetoric is calling them primitive AI.

    Thankfully, after hobbling the original Siri then allowing it to languish, Apple is considerably improving its functionality with macOS 10.13 High Sierra and iOS 11. Hurrah.

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