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Are There Already 56M Amazon Alexa, Google Home Devices in the US?

New Amazon Echo

After a bunch of initial “voice search” hype, industry insiders now debate whether voice search and smart speakers will have a major impact on the market. Case in point: as I was preparing for my Yext Onward panel discussion on local SEO this coming week, all the speakers on the session expressed considerable skepticism (to my surprise) about whether smart speakers and voice search would impact the market much at all.

I don’t share that view although I think the scope of the impact is certainly debatable. Holiday 2017 will likely see millions of smart speakers (mostly Amazon and Google devices) sold. Amazon will aggressively discount its various Alexa units in an effort to maintain market share and momentum and Google will be forced to match at least some of those deals.

One question is: how many of these devices are already in US homes? There have been projections that there will be as many as 30 million smart speakers in the US by the end of Q4. I actually believe that number is low.

Voice assistant ownership

A March 2017 survey by Walker Sands (“Future of Retail 2017“) polled 1,622 adults in the US about a broad range of shopping-related topics. Unlike other surveys about smart speaker ownership, these respondents weren’t pre-qualified as owners. This was a general consumer population.

The survey found that about 23% of respondents owned one of these devices. If the results can be generalized to the larger US adult population (roughly 244 million) then we be looking at something like 56 million units in people’s homes today. I suspect that number is too large. But this is why I say the projected 30 million is probably low.

These devices are being improved all the time and Google is contemplating an answer to the touch-screen Echo Show that may appear in 2018. Consumer satisfaction levels surrounding these devices are also very high. This is not the smart watch or VR, which are disappointments in terms of consumer demand.

These smart speaker/smart home controller devices are here and taking off. What we don’t know quite yet is their precise impact on search and local business discovery.

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