Intelligence of Things

Smart Speakers, By The Numbers

Sonos Speakers Integration

Smart speakers get an awful lot of press — other than cars, they seemed to be everyone’s favorite gadget of the future at CES this year — but do regular people love them as much as tech writers seem to?

NPR, it seems, had a similar question — and decided to put together its inaugural smart speaker report to start to answer that question via an ~1,000 person online survey paired with an ~800 person online survey.

What did they learn?

Smart speaker penetration is still fairly low, with only about 16 percent of Americans saying they own one. That is divided unevenly between Google and Amazon users. Amazon has commanding lead — 11 percent of that 16 percent in theirs, and the remaining 5 percent or so flows to Google.  But stay tuned for those figures to change — holiday 2017 had a hot gift, and speakers might have been it. About 7 percent of Americans got a smart speaker this year — and 4 percent got their first smart speaker this year.

The same study also showed that smart speaker ownership tended to dampen enthusiasm for other activities. For example, 39 percent of those surveyed noted that they now listen to the radio less than they once did, 34 percent noted they were spending less time with their smartphone because of their smart speaker, and 30 percent said they were watching less TV because of it.

And that change seems to be persistent overtime. Unlike wearables, which tend to have an initial burst of consumer interest before the customer loses interest and the wearable moves to a drawer, people seem to use their smart speakers more over time. As of the survey, 51 percent of smart speaker owners report using it more a month in, while 33 percent claim to use it about the same amount and 16 percent say they are using it less.

Perhaps most interestingly, having experienced smart speakers and their AI assistants, consumers are also looking for more — 64 percent say they would like to see their smart assistant follow them to their car. And consumers are using their smart speakers communally, with 66 percent of owners saying they’ve used it to entertain guests.

For the rest of NPR’s smart speaker data, you can see the full report here.


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