One of the most interesting, and perhaps unexpected, tech product categories to emerge in recent years has been smart speakers (i.e. wireless speakers with integrated voice assistants). When Amazon first made the Echo widely available in 2015, many weren’t sure what to make of the product. Was it just a gimmick, or did it actually have potential as a new consumer tech category?
As it turns out, consumers who bought the device liked it (Note: their data show that between June and October of this year, Smart Speaker penetration has gone from 8% to 11% among all Wi-Fi households). And they found more use cases for it, from listening to music and news, to setting reminders and timers, to answering basic questions. Last year Amazon introduced the Echo Dot as a more affordable, entry-level device that quickly amassed interest and proved there was a market for this product category. Since then, Amazon has rapidly expanded and diversified its smart speaker offering to the Echo Look, Echo Show, Echo Plus, and more. Other tech titans have also since entered the category, with Google Home garnering positive reviews and Apple getting ready to enter the market with the forthcoming HomePod.
But it’s not just the smart speaker market that’s on the verge of breaking out. It’s really the clearest sign we have that the ‘smart home’ may also be beginning to materialize. For many consumers, the smart speaker is the gateway device to enabling a smart home, and recent data suggests smart speakers are complementary to an array of other smart home devices.
In fact, smart speaker households are several times more likely to use a variety of ‘smart devices’, most notably smart thermostats (2.8x as likely), smart hubs (3.4x) and especially smart light systems (6.3x).
Lipsman, A. (2017, Dec. 1). comScore.