About 35.6 million Americans will use a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month this year, according to a new forecast from eMarketer. If that forecast proves correct, that will represent a 129% jump in voice engagement with virtual assistants over last year.
Amazon’s Echo speaker will attract 70.6% of users, according to eMarketer, while Google Home will garner just 23.8% and smaller players, such as Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon and Mattel will make up the rest of the market.
Meanwhile, a separate study from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners reported that about 10.7 million U.S. Amazon customers currently have an Amazon Echo device. The Echo Dot now represents about 52% of all Echo devices in the market, with the original Echo accounting for about 36%, according to the report.
The phenomenal expected growth in the number of people using voice-activated devices is due in large part to all of those Echo households, many of which have multiple users.
Most competitors in the market owe a debt of gratitude to Amazon, not only for being the pioneer in the space that cleared the path for the rest to follow, but also four doubling it efforts in recent months to broaden the appeal of Alexa-powered devices and to build a bigger ecosystem around them.
Interestingly, eMarketer actually made a distinction between the voice-activated devices and the voice-activated assistants that engage with the users and control the features of these devices. It seems pretty hard to separate the Echo from Alexa — it might be much easier to separate the Echo from the Echo Dot from the Echo Tap, for example, than it is to separate any of these devices from the secret ingredient at their core.
In any case, eMarketer also predicted that 60.5 million Americans, or almost 28% of the nation's smartphone users, will use Siri, Cortana or another smartphone-based virtual assistant at least once a month this year. The most frequent users of digital assistants are people between the ages of 25 and 34, representing more than 26% of the total user base.
We clearly have entered the "Age of Ask," with users becoming more comfortable with these voice-activated devices and virtual assistants, and the companies behind them pressing the core technologies involved into devices. Amazon, for its part, hasn't become satisfied with just one Echo device either; the e-commerce giant has continued to release new iterations with various capabilities.
The most recent was its Echo Look, a device launched in late April that serves as a consumer's personal stylist. While it may have a long way to go to reach the market prominence of the Echo Dot, the Echo Look at least it has the same helpful assistant inside it waiting for users to engage.