While the number of smart speakers in U.S. households rose 78% last year, only 21% of adults own one
21% of adults in the U.S. now own a smart speaker, says the latest report from Edison Research and NPR. This works out to 53 million people, 14 million (or 36%) more than last year. The majority of smart speaker owners now have multiple units. In December 2017, 38% of those with a speaker owned two or more of these devices. In December 2018, that figure was up to 52%. As a result, the number of smart speakers inside households soared 78% over the last year from 66.7 million to 118.5 million. Even with all these strong numbers, device penetration is low. This gives manufacturers hope for continued growth.
With pricing as low as $25 for low-end models, smart speakers have become an affordable and welcomed gift. This past holiday season, 8% of Americans received a new smart speaker as a gift. And as Americans receive these speakers for holiday gifts and birthday presents, more and more of them know that such a product exists. In January 2016, 62% of those surveyed in the states had heard of smart speakers; that number rose to 77% last month.
The device itself usually consists of a speaker and a virtual personal assistant like Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri or Cortana. They can be used to turn on or off smart appliances, stream music, hear the latest news, get the latest sports scores/stock prices, send texts, make calls, get the weather, call for an Uber or Lyft, and much more. Each assistant has a number of numerous tasks that they can handle. 29% say that they use their speaker several times a day, and 24% report that use the device nearly every day. Only 16% say that the smart speaker in their home sits around and collects dust.
While Amazon created the category with its Echo line, Google has momentum with its Home series of smart speakers. Apple has been unable to get traction for its HomePod speaker, which at $349 is priced as a premium model.