The Amazon Echo is far ahead of rivals when it comes to voice-controlled speakers, according to research firm eMarketer. Amazon’s speakers come with Alexa, a voice-controlled aide users can ask to order an Uber ride, turn on the house lights or play music.
Rising popularity of voice-controlled speakers and virtual assistants
The report released on Monday highlights the rising use of speech-recognition technology in people’s day-to-day lives and the growing demand for Amazon’s Alexa. According to eMarketer, Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot will enjoy a 70.6% share in the U.S. this year. In comparison, Alphabet’s Google Home will hold a 23.8% share. The remaining market share is held by Lenovo, LG, and other manufacturers (Harmon Kardon, and Mattel).
eMarketer claims that the numbers of people in the U.S. using such devices will more than double this year to 35.6 million. Apart from their voice-controlled speakers, big names are also trying to attract more and more users for their voice assistants.
“Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the technology, which is driving engagement,” the research firm said. “As prices decrease and functionality increases, consumers are finding more reasons to adopt these devices.”
eMarketer estimates a 23.1% increase in the use of virtual assistants this year, which would mean that nearly one in five Americans will use the tech at least once a month this year. Young users, as usual, will be the early adopters, with Millennials accounting for about 27% of voice assistant users and one-third of mobile virtual assistant users this year, according to eMarketer.
Amazon Echo ahead, but Google Home catching up fast
Amazon launched the Echo in 2015 as a substitute for using tablets, smartphones and computers at home. Since then, the company has used its Alexa voice assistant in its smaller Echo Dot and Fire tablets. It is also being licensed to third-party companies like GE Lighting, which is using it in one of their products. The growing user base for Alexa means more data, which can be used to further improve Alexa’s understanding.
Though the retailer does not reveal the Echo sales number separately, it did say recently that it had to work hard to keep up with demand. In a recent note, RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney noted that Alexa could generate $10 billion for the company by 2020 via device sales and revenue from shoppers placing orders using it, notes CNBC.
Google’s share of the market is also expected to rise. According to a survey by Mahaney, Google Home, which has been on the market since only November, is already 80% as popular (by brand awareness) as Alexa in the U.S.
The rising popularity of the segment is attracting some big names. Recently, there were reports that Apple could also come with its own voice speaker incorporated with its popular voice assistant Siri. Trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple might announce its Echo competitor at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June and start selling it in the second half of this year.