Voice-Activated Connected Device Usage Jumps 130 Percent This Year

Amazon's Echo speaker commands 70 percent of the voice-activated connected intelligence market, says eMarketer. But the demand is only starting.

In 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, says eMarketer.

At the moment, Amazon’s Echo device has a huge lead with a 70.6 percent of users in that space. Google Home, which only launched last October, will have to catch up as it has just 23.8 percent of the market.

While that number could change quickly as these devices are still just outside the mainstream of consumer usage, there are a number of smaller voice-activated device makers, including Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon, and Mattel, that are entering the game now.

The eMarketer report comes as rumors swirl that Apple will preview its own voice-activated, connected home hub to house its pioneering connected intelligent assistant, Siri, at its upcoming developer conference the first week in June.

As those devices, change the digital and electronic marketplace, eMarketer expects Amazon Echo, which gives voice to Alexa, to diminish slightly over the next few years, particularly as rivals’ respective shares expand. But for now, Amazon, having helped define the space with Echo and Alexa, should be able to hold on to its commanding position.

The eMarketer analysis underscores other forecasts, such as Parks Associates’ assessment that adoption of digital voice-activated assistants more than doubled in Q1 as 76 percent of consumers having used spoken commands to their connected device, the timing could hardly be better for Apple’s entry into the space currently commanded by Amazon and Google.

According to Forrester, 33 percent of U.S. online adults say they use intelligent agents like Google Now or Cortana, Forrester notes.

More than 6 million U.S. homes have an Alexa-enabled device, and Forrester estimates another 20 million will have one or something like it by the year’s end. Ultimately, 16 billion Internet of Things devices will send data about customers and their environments by 2021, offering marketers much greater insight and point of connection than ever before.

Amazon Alexa

The Rise Of Connected Intelligent Assistants

While the attraction to device depends on its ability to accurately and naturally respond — anecdotally, many families who own an Echo say their young children  practically regard Alexa as a member of the family — the emotional attachment to those virtual voices will determine the winner in the marketplace.

“Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the technology, which is driving engagement,” said Martín Utreras, eMarketer’s VP of forecasting. “As prices decrease and functionality increases, consumers are finding more reasons to adopt these devices.”

This year, 60.5 million Americans will use Siri, Cortana or another virtual assistant at least once a month. That equates to 27.5 percent of smartphone users, or nearly one-fifth of the population.

The primary adopters of intelligent assistants are people between the ages of 25 and 34, eMarketer says. That cohort represents 26.3 percent of digital assistant users. Not surprisingly, more than one-third of Millennials (33.5 percent) will use  either an Alexa, Siri, Google Now Assistant, or Cortana this year.

“Older Millennials are the core users of virtual assistants, mainly due to their demand for functionality over entertainment,” Utreras said.

The rapid rise of connected intelligence is upending the balance between advertising and marketing, text search and voice-search, Forrester’s analysts have noted, urging CMOs to quickly shift their brand budgets to begin engaging with these platforms or get lost in the scramble.

The changes coming from the rise of voice will even call the utility of the website into question, as means of one-to-one communication between consumers and brands, Birchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp recently told GeoMarketing‘s Lauryn Chamberlain.

“As these platforms where people are actually spending their time adapt and allow you to stay within the platform more and more, that, to me, is [the future],” Beauchamp said.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

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