Almost half of all consumers in the United States will own a smart speaker — like Google Home or Amazon Echo — by the end of the year, according to a survey commissioned by Adobe that was released today.
Roughly one-third of those surveyed said they already own a speaker, and an additional 16 percent said they intend to purchase one by the end of the year.
The survey referred to as the “State of Voice Assistants“ report by Adobe is the third such poll released by the company to gauge U.S. consumers‘ user habits related to smart speakers, voice assistants, and conversational AI.
A previous estimate predicted that a majority of U.S. households would get a smart speaker by 2022.
While Google Home has led global smart speaker sales in the first two quarters of 2018, according to Canalys, Amazon also sold millions of Echo speakers, Apple’s HomePod has entered the market, and Samsung’s Bixby Home made its debut last month.
Both Google and Amazon reported selling millions of speakers during the holiday season last year. A report released by Adobe during the Consumer Electronics Show in January found that nearly 76 percent of smart speaker sales occur during the holiday season.
The survey also found that 45 percent of smart speaker owners plan to buy an additional speaker for themselves this holiday season, while 23 percent plan to buy one for somebody else.
The survey was conducted in the U.S. in August 2018 and includes responses from more than 1,000 consumers between the ages of 18 and 65.
“As a society, we are realizing that the usefulness of voice assistant technology can far outweigh the initial awkwardness felt when talking to devices in front of others, and the growth in smart speaker usage has had the most impact in driving this forward. With consumers starting to embrace more activities beyond simple inquiries about music and the weather, it is becoming critical for major brands to give voice as much priority as other channels, like website and mobile. If they don’t move quickly, many will miss the boat like they did when smartphones suddenly became ubiquitous.”
As word error rates decrease and new features are added, AI assistants like Alexa have seen a rise in usage among a variety of demographics, but most dramatically among smart speaker owners, whose usage of voice assistants has increased 76 percent in the last year.
The survey also explored the most popular ways to use smart speakers. According to survey respondents, playing music, checking the weather, asking factual questions, doing online searches, and setting a timer are among the most common uses for smart speakers, followed by checking the news, adding events to a calendar, or asking for directions.
Results here are similar to those from PricewaterhouseCoopers, and self-reported data from companies like Google and Amazon, which say smart speaker owners prefer to do things like play music, set timers and alarms, check the weather, and ask random questions.
Though anonymous sources at Amazon told the Information only 2 percent of Echo speaker owners have completed voice shopping transactions this year, the State of Voice Assistants report found that 30 percent of respondents said they shop and order items with their voice. But it also found that voice was most often used to encourage purchases at a later date, like conducting product research or price comparisons or creating shopping lists.
Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak, who previously suggested Google give everyone in the United States a free Home Mini speaker so Amazon doesn’t eat into Google’s search profit, predicts that shopping with voice will increase as assistants become available in more visual surfaces, such as televisions, personal computers, and car infotainment systems.
Since last year, Google has introduced Assistant for Android TV and smart display devices with Google Assistant inside. The Pixel 3, expected to be released at an October 9 Made by Google product launch in New York City, is said to include a charging dock that will facilitate visual interaction with Google Assistant.
Amazon has also made an effort to become accessible through more visual surfaces, with Fire 8 and Fire 10 tablets adopting Show Mode, more integration with televisions and control of video content, and initiatives that put Alexa into more personal computers.
The proliferation of smart speakers is benefitting Amazon, as one study found that Echo owners with Prime memberships spend $400 more in the Amazon marketplace annually.