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Survey Tracks Adoption of Voice-Activated Technology

NPR-Edison Research survey says holiday season a benchmark moment for smart speaker sales

It should come as no surprise that the holiday season was a boon to smart speaker sales. A recent survey from NPR and Edison Research has numbers that appear to back that up. Among the findings published in the Smart Audio Report, Fall/Winter 2017 is that one in six Americans now has a smart speaker (16%), up 128% since January 2017. That is according to a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,010 persons ages 18 and older that was taken after Christmas 2017.

During the 2017 holiday season itself, the survey claimed that 7% of Americans acquired at least one smart speaker between the end of November and the end of December 2017. The survey also found that Amazon and Google currently dominate the market, where over two-thirds of smart speaker owners report having an Echo, Dot or other Alexa-based product. One-quarter of smart speaker owners report having a Google Assistant product, such as Google Home or Google Home Mini.

Perhaps the bigger picture painted by this survey suggests that the overarching voice-activation technology is being embraced by consumers on a number of fronts. Some of the findings of a separate survey of 800 smart speaker owners in the fall of 2017 are:

● 30% say the smart speaker is replacing time spent with TV
● 71% are listening to more audio since getting a smart speaker
● 66% entertain family/friends with the smart speaker
● 64% of owners who plan to buy additional smart speakers want to use them to control smart home devices
● 44% of smart speaker owners are using the voice assistant on their phones more since getting a smart speaker
● 61% are interested in getting smart speaker technology in their cars

The survey also claims that the adoption rate for smart speakers is comparable to that for smartphones a decade ago. Apple’s iPhone was introduced in summer 2007. Three years later, in the spring of 2010, 14% of Americans owned a smartphone (Edison, Infinite Dial). Amazon’s Echo, the first smart speaker on the market, was introduced in November 2014. Three years later, the survey claims, 16% of Americans own a smart speaker.

The findings of the Smart Audio Report were presented in a session at CES in Las Vegas on Jan. 10. Following the research presentation, representatives from NPR, Edison, Amazon and Google joined a panel discussion on the growth and impact of smart speakers.