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Smart Speaker Penetration Reaches 20 Percent With 18.7 million US Connected Homes

That’s more than a 50 percent increase in just three months, says comScore Senior Director Susan Engleson.

It looks like holiday season discounts for Amazon Echos and Google Home devices gave an extra boost to consumers’ interest in voice activated smart devices, as comScore finds that penetration of smart speakers is now at 20 percent of wi-fi homes.

That amounts to a 50 percent increase in just three months, comScore Senior Director for Emerging Products Susan Engleson writes.

As the comScore numbers below indicate, lower price points during the holiday shopping season generated a steady spike in sales. Specifically, Google released the Home Mini on October 19 and kept the price at $29 for the holiday season. Amazon expanded its lineup prior to the holiday season with new devices – Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Show, Echo Spot and Echo Look – and also offered its entry-level device, the Echo Dot, for $29.

Source: comScore

“The increased penetration in November came from smart speakers figuring prominently in Black Friday advertising and promotions, which afforded brick-and-mortar retailers a share of the sales of these decidedly digital devices,”Engleson says. “Interestingly, the nation’s largest retailer, Walmart, sold only Google – not Amazon devices – and Apple did not capitalize on smart speakers at all this holiday season, releasing the HomePod in early February.”

Given the HomePod’s $399 price tag, Engleson and other analysts expect adoption of the HomePod will going to be much slower than its less expensive competitors, mainly attracting Apple fans such as the people who have purchased the roughly $1,000 iPhone X.

Given Amazon’s and Google’s aggressive pricing, lower income households are gaining ground on the higher earning consumers, who make up the majority of smart device owners.

“As of February 2018, smart speaker ownership was almost equivalent in homes with the youngest (18-to-24-year-olds) and oldest (65+) adult segments,”Engleson says. “I can imagine in just or a year or two, a smart speaker will be a must-have for incoming college freshmen. Anecdotally, I’ve heard that children really enjoy voice interaction with digital devices. The 2018 holiday season could see a device in every child’s bedroom (and enhanced parental controls, so kids aren’t up all night interacting with the device – a modern-day reading-with-a-flashlight-under-the-covers situation).”

Source: comScore

By way of comparison, a year ago, we noted that smart home product shipments rose 29 percent in 2016, according to eMarketer, while Park Associates has noted, 56 percent of U.S. broadband households want to use voice-activated personal assistance to control smart home products versus 55 percent of those who want to use voice to control entertainment devices.

At the time, eMarketer estimated that by the end of 2017, 35.6 million Americans will use a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month for sudden rise of 128.9 percent over last year. And according to Forrester, 33 percent of U.S. online adults say they use intelligent agents like Google Now or Cortana.

While the numbers from the different analysts naturally vary, the point is nevertheless clear, comScore’s Engleson notes: “with more households owning multiple smart speakers, the foundation has been laid for the continued expansion and adoption of the fully smart home – as the smart speaker is often the gateway device to enable a smart home.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.