Smart speaker market intensifies with 40 million Americans now owning one

Alexa-Mayo Clinic
Smart speakers were one of the holiday season’s big-ticket items, so you may not be altogether surprised to learn that some 39 million American adults now have one of the devices in their homes. That’s up by a notable 128 percent on January, 2017.

The data comes courtesy of NPR and Edison Research and suggests the nation is beginning to cozy up to the technology as tech giants such as Amazon and Google duke it out to lead the smart-speaker pack.

And with Apple set to enter the market any time now with its HomePod device, expect ownership numbers to climb even further in 2018. Indeed, another study conducted recently by the Consumer Technology Association suggests 44 percent of U.S. adults plan to buy a smart speaker at some point during 2018.

The hands-free, voice-controlled devices let you request information, play tracks from your digital music library, make calls, listen to audiobooks, control smart-home gadgets, and more.

NPR’s data found that around 7 percent of Americans bought a smart speaker during the period between Black Friday (November 24) and the end of December, with Amazon’s Echo platform proving more popular than Google’s Home offerings.

The fierce competition prompted both companies to drop the prices on some of their smart speakers in the run-up to Christmas, though it appears the two competitors had little trouble persuading consumers to part with their cash in exchange for an Echo or Home product. Amazon, for example, said its Echo Dot — cut to $30 from $50 during the pre-Christmas period — was its best-selling device this holiday season “from any manufacturer in any category across all of Amazon.”

Just over 65 percent of consumers said they’re using their voice-activated speaker to stream music, answer questions, tell jokes, and play games. Meanwhile, 31 percent said that in the previous week they used their speaker with a smart device to  control things like lights and temperature around their home.

Interestingly, 34 percent of respondents said their smart speaker is causing them to spend less time using their smartphone, while 44 percent said that having gotten used to barking commands at their speaker, they’re now using their phone’s digital assistant — think Google Assistant or the iPhone’s Siri —more than before. Altogether, 71 percent of those with a smart speaker said they now listen to more podcasts and radio shows.

Finally, 65 percent said they would no longer want to go without a smart speaker.

More and more companies are entering the smart-speaker space, with many devices incorporating digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. For more details on what’s currently available, check out this recent DT piece.

NPR‘s study interviewed 1,816 adults nationally between November 17 and December 30, 2017.

Deals

Walmart is offering Google Home starter kits for under $50

If you're hoping to save big on Google Home devices before all the holiday deals come to an end, there's no better time than right now. Walmart is slashing prices on smart home starter kits for a limited time.
Home Theater

These top-line smart speakers conduct the most sophisticated symphony: Your life

Stuck talking to yourself? Get an A.I. assistant to keep you company! Whether you put your stock in Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, we've picked out the best smart speaker for any smart home ecosystem.
Smart Home

How to talk to Santa on Alexa and Google Assistant

Nothing say "holiday" like talking to Santa. Here's how to talk to Santa on Alexa and Google Assistant, whether he's helping you create a playlist or checking to see if you've been naughty or nice this week.
Smart Home

Google Store sale is on now through December 24!

Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 may be history, but fans of Google hardware including the popular Google Home Hub, Pixel 3 and 3XL mobile phones still have lots of deals in store -- the Google Store, that is.
Deals

Best deals on smart locks so you’ll never have to worry about unlocked doors

Is your front door locked? We found the best deals on smart home door locks that take the worry out of wondering if your home is secure. You can lock or unlock your doors remotely and some models let you control locks with voice commands.
Deals

These Amazon kitchen deals are perfect for Christmas gifts and healthy eating

Today is day 10 of Amazon’s “12 Days of Deals,” and it’s all about kitchen. From blenders to Instant Pots to KitchenAid mixers and more, practical yet highly coveted small appliances are available for up to 50 percent off.
Product Review

The Brava Oven takes all the thinking out of cooking

Using bulbs to cook food at different light frequencies, the Brava Oven lets even the clueless cook a tasty meal. But your own smart chef doesn’t come cheap.
Smart Home

Ring Alarm vs. Nest Secure: Which one is right for you?

Thanks to the advance of technology, it's become really easy nowadays to secure your home and protect it from thieves, intruders, and unwanted guests. Which one of these two top contenders is right for you?
Smart Home

The Apple HomePod gets a whole lot cheaper today at Target

Apple's HomePod hasn't been the most popular smart speaker on the market but for users who are all in on Apple's heavily policed ecosystem of devices, this smart speaker is on serious sale at Target this week.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Smart Home

Uber Eats is testing a system for cheaper meal delivery

You know how Uber Pool offers cheaper trips if riders share a car? Well, Uber Eats is currently testing the same idea for meal delivery, and it could mean cheaper orders for customers.
Smart Home

Dear Instant Pot Smart: I love you. Thank you for changing my life

After taking the Instant Pot Smart WiFi Programmable Pressure Cooker for a spin, one long-time product reviewer finds much to love about the device she long coveted, despite that it’s not really that smart.
Deals

Brew, drip, or press a fresh cup of joe with today’s best deals on coffee makers

To kick off the day with a fresh cup or upgrade your home coffee machine to accommodate the preferences of dinner guests, check these hot deals for drip coffee makers, espresso machines, and single-serving devices on Walmart and Amazon.
Smart Home

People are stealing Ring doorbells (and it’s no knock-knock joke)

Ring Video Doorbell thefts in a Denver neighborhood raise questions about how much security the smart home devices actually provide. One homeowner and the police have a video of the theft. Here's what to do if your Ring device is stolen.