“Alexa, who owns the voice-enabled devices market in the U.S.?” I do!
According to a report by eMarketer, Amazon Echo has a 70.6% market share in the United States. Google Home is a distant second with 23.8%, leaving all others scrambling for crumbs at 5.6%.
Voice-enabled devices are more than a toy or an odd news story. The ability of these devices to provide useful on-demand information, order products, control appliances and lights in your home is a success with consumers.
The report estimates that in 2017, 35.6 million Americans will use their voice-enabled devices at least once per month. Consumers are comfortable using the devices and find more reasons to purchase one.
Voice-enabled devices were a big hit during the 2016 Christmas season.
TV ad space was full of commercials from Amazon and Google, and it kickstarted the popularity of voice-enabled assistants.
And some consumers may remember that the entry level Echo Dot was on backorder for weeks leading up to Christmas.
WHAT ABOUT SIRI, CORTANA AND OTHER VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS?
Virtual assistants started with Siri and Google Now on smartphones and tablets a few years ago. They have proliferated to laptops and computers with Cortana, and there are a plethora of 3rd party options.
eMarketer estimates that 60.5 million Americans turn to virtual assistants in 2017. That is a 23.1% increase in usage with 25-34 year-olds making up over 1/4 of total users.
Older Millennials are also known as Generation Y, Echo Boomers or Millenniums. They encompass the age group of 18-35 as of 2017. With over 71 million in the US population, they are the largest working group... are more likely to use virtual assistants as they look for functionality versus play or entertainment from those devices.
GROWTH WILL CONTINUE DESPITE SECURITY AND PRIVACY CONCERNS
Of course, with voice-enabled devices in your home, there have been some interesting news stories about security and privacy.
A recent Fox News article discussed how you can listen to almost everything that your Echo Dot has ever heard. The device has even made news about a murder case where the police sought recordings from Amazon.
And there have been warnings that you may want to double check your settings to avoid random ordering of products.
NEW AMAZON ECHO AROUND THE CORNER?
Amazon just launched the Echo Look, a device that allows you to try on fashion items virtually. But there are rumors now that Amazon may be close to releasing a new Echo with a touch screen.
These rumors are fueled by the fact that the original Echo is on sale now for $149, down from $179.
If you believe some of the rumors, it may just be weeks out for this new Amazon Echo.
HOW DO VOICE-ENABLED DEVICES HELP ECOMMERCE?
If you sell on marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay, you may have noticed that over the last few years there has been an increase in requiring structured data.
This structured data, also known as keywords or category specific specifications, is crucial for these devices to help with searching and ordering products.
Google recently announced the inclusion of eBay into Google Home. Amazon, as the owner of Echo, is including as many of their products in the Alexa ecosystem.
It is more difficult at the moment to envision how regular eCommerce websites can take advantage of the voice-enabled devices.
For this year and probably most of next year, marketplaces will dominate this space. If the rumored Echo with touchscreen makes its debut shortly, this should increase the Echo line’s usefulness in eCommerce.
It would be hard to think that Google is willing to give up that space, so you should expect something new from Google this year as well.
Exciting times are ahead for voice-enabled eCommerce. While Amazon and Google will likely own this market segment, 3rd party extensions may take advantage of API calls to integrate other eCommerce platforms with voice ordering.