Growing focus on smart speakers for smart home

Dec. 12, 2018
Smart speakers are becoming the preferred smart home interface, and their market penetration is growing, according to research houses ...

Smart speakers are becoming the preferred smart home interface, and their market penetration is growing, according to research houses Parks Associates and the NPD Group.

Parks says 28% of U.S. broadband households with a smart speaker with voice assistant use the device to control a smart home device, compared to 12% that use the device to control an entertainment device.

"The entertainment ecosystem is lagging a bit in the voice control area, even though 45% of U.S. broadband households see voice control of the TV as appealing," said Jennifer Kent, Parks' director, Research Quality & Product Development. "Voice-based technologies experienced massive growth in the past five years, by alleviating complexity in the user experience and delivering key use cases in control of smart home devices. As consumers see these voice solutions operate their smart lights and thermostats, their interests extend to their entertainment services, creating opportunities for players that can bring a quality voice-based solution to this ecosystem."

Additional research indicates:

  • More than 45% of U.S. broadband households own a connected health device.
  • 20% of U.S. broadband households are very interested in home living service to notify family in case of emergency.
  • More than 6 million U.S. consumers will use personal emergency response system (PERS) devices for medical alerts by 2021.
  • 40% of U.S. broadband households would pay for at least one home-living service for themselves.

According to the NPD Group, for the 12 months ending September 2018, unit sales of voice-enabled speakers increased 36% compared to the same timeframe year ago. Dollar sales over the same timeframe increased 15% year over year, totaling $2.7 billion in the United States.

While consumers are steadily adopting voice technology, many are choosing to enter the market at lower price points. During the 12 months ending September, voice-enabled speakers priced under $100 held 76% of the market based on unit sales, and 44% of the market based on dollar sales.

Amazon and Google remain the two top-selling voice-enabled speaker brands, with more than three-quarters of U.S. unit sales combined, but new additions to the market are working to appeal to consumers who are looking for superior sound quality and are willing to spend more for it. In the 12 months ending September, voice-enabled speakers priced between $200 and $400 made up 5% of unit sales.

"A strategic imperative to quickly increase installed bases, fueled by significant holiday promotions, will make for strong Q4 unit sales of voice-enabled speakers," said Stephen Baker, vice president, technology industry advisor for the NPD Group. "With speakers being the gateway into the smart home, growing the installed base to drive consumer recognition of the value of these devices will allow adjacent categories to flourish as well, such as locks, light bulbs, smart displays, and mesh WiFi systems."

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