One in six US adults (or around 39 million people) now own a voice-activated smart speaker, according to research from NPR and Edison Research. The Smart Audio Report claims that uptake of these devices over the last three years is “outpacing the adoption rates of smartphones and tablets.” Users spent time using speakers to find restaurants and businesses, playing games, setting timers and alarms, controlling smart home devices, sending messages, ordering food, and listening to music and books. Over half of respondents keep their smart speaker in the living room, followed by the kitchen (21 percent), and master bedroom (19 percent).
The survey of just under 2,000 individuals found that the time people spend using their smart speaker replaces time spent with other devices including the radio, smart phone, TV, tablet, computer, and publications like magazines. Over half of respondents also said they use smart speakers even more after the first month of owning one. Around 66 percent of users said they use their speaker to entertain friends and family, mostly to play music but also to ask general questions and check the weather.
There also seems to be a cultural shift in how users shop, with nearly 30 percent researching an item for purchase on the smart speaker, and 22 percent using it to buy new products. These mostly included household supplies (58 percent of purchases), electronics (51 percent), and health and beauty products (48 percent). Many would also be interested in having smart speaker capabilities in their cars. 65 percent of users say they wouldn’t go back to life without a smart speaker.
In terms of brands, 11 percent reported owning an Amazon Alexa-enabled speaker, compared to 4 percent who said they owned a Google Home device. The report surveyed 1,010 people aged 18 and over by phone and 806 people online, with all online respondents reporting ownership of an Amazon or Google speaker. With plenty of options for consumers already on the market, and more to come from brands including Samsung, it’s more than likely that the 39 million ownership figure will only grow. Though the future looks sunny for manufacturers, we’ve previously argued that the perfect smart speaker still remains elusive.