Amazon Alexa

The latest slice of “The Smart Audio Report” from NPR and Edison Research reveals that one-in-six Americans (16%) now has a smart speaker, up a hefty 128% since January 2017. Demonstrating the exponential growth of the voice-activated category, 7% of those surveyed got a smart speaker during the 2017 holiday season and 4% acquired their first device during that time.

The new results, unveiled Wednesday at CES 2018 in Las Vegas, show the popularity of Amazon Alexa is nearly three times that of Google Home.

Among top takeaways for radio, a staggering 71% of Amazon Alexa and Google Home owners are listening to more audio since adopting the device in their homes. In addition, of that group, 28% say they are listening to more news/talk. And 65% say they have no interest in returning to life without their smart speaker close at hand.

The new round of findings is based on a 1,010-person 18+ telephone survey in December; and an 806-person online survey in November with those who own smart speakers. The ongoing Smart Audio Report debuted in June 2017, with a second release of fresh survey data in September.

The latest Edison/NPR data shows the fast-growing sector is replacing time spent with a variety of other media and entertainment options – 39% say they are spending less time with traditional AM/FM, 34% say time with the devices has supplanted time with their smartphones, 30% with television, 27% with tablets, 26% with computers, 23% with printed publications, and 17% with a Sonos or other whole-house audio system.

But at the same time, smart speakers are also bringing family and friends back together, which is good for radio. Among the 66% of owners who say they use the device to “entertain,” the top tasks for these group activities are playing music (60%), answering general questions (30%), weather (28%), telling a joke (18%)—and listening to music on AM/FM radio (13%).

Usage is also increasing for those with smart speakers: 51% use the device more often than in their first month of ownership, 33% use it about the same, and only 16% say they use it less.

Among the most popular activities, the report reveals that in mornings, users ask about traffic, weather and news. From 9am-3pm, they add to to-do lists and add to shopping lists. In early evenings, users search for restaurants and businesses, look up recipes and order food. From 7-9 pm, the most popular activities are games, sending messages to other devices and children’s stories. And from 8pm-to midnight, Alexa is called upon to control smart home devices, to play audiobooks and to set timers and alarms.

Demonstrating the potential of smart speakers beyond the home, some 64% of respondents said they are interested in having the technology in their cars. More than 50% were also interested in adopting the tech on their phones and on their TVs.