As new technology and gadgets come to market, retailers place their bets on how big the new products will become. Some, like smartphones, disrupt the market, and some, like 3D TV, never take off. So what about smart speakers, this holiday season’s hottest gadget?
According to comScore's US Connected Home data for October and released this month, the smart speaker category has hit a “critical adoption threshold.” Among US households with Wi-Fi connections, comScore said, 11% had smart speakers in October, up each month since at least June, when the measure was 8.1%.
The comScore data appears to be in line with eMarketer's most recent estimate for smart speaker use. In April, eMarketer estimated there will be 35.6 million smart speaker users in the US this year, representing 13% of internet users.
As smart speakers became a key deal offering over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, comScore expects the category could hit a 15% adoption rate by early next year.
“We’ve seen this mark an inflection point for adoption of smartphones and leading social networks in recent years, so we could be on the cusp of the same occurring for smart speakers,” said Andrew Lipsman, comScore’s senior vice president of marketing & insights, in a blog post. “When Amazon first made the Echo widely available in 2015, many weren’t sure what to make of the product…. As it turns out, consumers who bought the device liked it.”
The buzz about smart speakers as gateway devices bodes well for the smart home category overall, according to comScore. Smart speaker households are several times more likely than other households to use smart devices, anything from smart thermostats to smart light systems, it said.
Amazon’s Echo Dot and other voice assistants were among key Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals at retailers such as Target and Best Buy, as well as Amazon’s own site. Meanwhile, to compete against Amazon, Google is running TV commercials pitching its Google Home line. Walmart not only discounted the Google Home products on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it offered shoppers additional discounts when they order through the Google device within a given time.