An eMarketer report found that smart speaker adoption is not nearly as high as once expected. The report predicts that 21.6 million people will have made a purchase using a smart speaker by the end of 2020, a projection that was lower than the firm's second quarter 2019 estimate of 23.6 million consumers.
Though consumers' smart speaker adoption was lower than anticipated, the report also projects that 10.8% of all American digital consumers will buy goods this year via a smart speaker. By 2021, the report estimates that 23.5 million consumers will make purchases via smart speakers.
The majority of smart speakers users (81.1%) are projected this year to use them to listen to audio, and 77.8% will use smart speakers to make inquiries, per the report. Only 26% of smart speaker users will make purchases through the device, though 35% will shop on them, the report also indicated.
The report by eMarketer gives additional context about how many people are really using smart speakers. An earlier report from digital commerce firm Sumo Heavy found that only one in five consumers have shopped via voice assistant, and just under half of U.S. consumers said they never use voice assistants.
Additionally, out of the 27% of U.S. consumers who owned voice-enabled devices in 2018, only 28% of them used the technology to buy goods, a Visa-sponsored PYMNTS.com report found. A report from Canalys found that Baidu smart speakers took second place in the smart speaker market over the summer, pushing Google Home into third and hurting its chances of dominating over competitors like Amazon.
But what's driving the slow adoption of smart speakers? EMarketer suggests that the problem stems from consumer skepticism around payment security and privacy.
"There's a good deal of friction in the voice-based buying process because people can't see what they'll actually be purchasing unless they have a screen on their smart speaker," eMarketer principal analyst Victoria Petrock said in a statement. "So, most of the purchases made today are reorders and things that don't need to be inspected."