Smart speakers, tablets, and set-top boxes with Amazon’s Alexa built in flew off the shelves this holiday season, according to Amazon.
The Seattle retailer didn’t break out exact stats, but revealed that shipments of Alexa-enabled devices like the Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick 4K, Alexa Voice Remote, and Echo were up “millions” of units year over year. Moreover, it said that Amazon shoppers purchased more Amazon’s Kids Edition devices — like the Echo Dots Kids Edition and Fire Kids Edition tablets — than ever before.
Also in the millions? Sales of Amazon Fire TV, Fire Tablet, and Kindle products. Shipments of Ring- and Blink-branded first-party smart home security products didn’t quite hit those record heights, but they, along with the smart home device category broadly, were up from last year, Amazon said.
So how’d the proud new owners of Alexa-imbued tablets, set-top boxes, TVs, and tablets use their devices? To queue up music and switch on connected light bulbs, mostly. Alexa played “hundreds of millions” more jams this holiday than last across services including Amazon Music, Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music, among others, Amazon says. (The most popular holiday tune was Mariah Carey’s enduring pop single, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” — the same as last year.) And Alexa fielded “tens of millions” of requests to turn on holiday lights, with the number one command being “Alexa, turn on the Christmas tree.”
That’s not the only thing customers tapped Alexa to do. The assistant delivered eight times as many reminders compared to last Christmas and set more than one hundred million timers, and it sounded a collective “millions” of doorbell and motion alerts. Alexa’s step-by-step recipes feature was a hit, unsurprisingly — the voice assistant requested three times as many culinary recipes this holiday versus last — as was Amazon’s Storytime on Alexa, which delivered over a million holiday stories.
Folks did plenty of shipping through Alexa, too, with purchases more than tripling this year compared to last.
“This season was our best yet, and we look forward to continuing to bring our customers what they want, in ways most convenient for them in 2019,” Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s Worldwide Consumer CEO, said.
Alexa’s record season reflects the general trend. The number of voice-enabled devices like speakers in use could come close to 100 million by the end of this year, up from 50 million at the end of 2017, some analysts predict. And early momentum more or less aligns with those findings.
NPR and Edison Research estimated in July 2018 that 18 percent of American adults — around 43 million people — owned a smart speaker. (Consumer Intelligence Research Partners and Voicebot put the number at 50 million and 47.3 million, respectively.) A November report published by research firm Canalys, meanwhile, contended that worldwide smart speaker shipments grew 137 percent year over year in the third quarter of 2018 to reach 19.7 million units, up from 8.3 million in Q3 2017.
The global smart speaker market could be worth as much as $30 billion by 2024, according to Global Market Insights.