Smart speaker ownership jumped to 40% in 2018
The total number of U.S. smart speaker owners increased by 40% last year, hitting 66.4 million, with ownership of multiple speakers pushing the total number of devices in-use to 133 million, according to a Voicebot.ai and Voicify study.
Amazon continues to hold top share in the U.S. smart speaker industry, with 61.1% market share in January 2019 compared to 71.9% in January 2018. Google captured 23.9% market share, up from 18.4% the year prior. The rest of the market combined to hold about 15% share, compared to 9.7% the previous year.
The study also found that 39.8% of consumers who use voice assistants on smartphones daily also own smart speakers.
This new study indicates that voice-activated smart speakers positions consumers to use the same technology in other devices. That's the ultimate goal for all the players in the virtual assistant game — most obviously for Amazon, which has admitted its devices are not being positioned as money-makers for the company.
While the battle of smart speaker market share draws all the headlines, voice-activated control of other devices, apps and web-based features are becoming integrated into homes and workplaces. Increasing consumer comfort levels means consumers may start doing more through these assistants and devices, including buying online. Retailers and brands haven't had much to get excited about yet regarding voice commerce, but growing consumer usage could eventually lead in that direction.
While smart speaker market share is not necessarily the end game, it does provide the sector with some understanding of which companies are well positioned within the industry. It's no surprise that Amazon continues to be the leader. While Google was poised to cut into Amazon's market share, it did so only to a modest degree, with the company accounting for about half of Amazon's market share decline, according to the study. Still, the connection between smart speaker usage and increased voice assistant usages through smartphones is good news for Google, which has its Google Assistant on many more types of devices, including smartphones.
Among other smart speaker brands, Voicebot.ai and Voicify called Apple's HomePod an "important driver of the rise of non-Amazon and non-Google smart speakers." That's a nice signal boost for Apple after HomePod sales around this time last year were perceived to be disappointing.
However, Apple recently hired Sam Jadallah, a veteran of the smart devices sector, into a leadership position for its smart home efforts.