Smart Speaker 220

A new forecast from eMarketer says Amazon will remain the most prominent player in the U.S. smart speaker marketplace through the end of next year. According to the latest estimates from the research firm, roughly 70% of total U.S. smart speaker users will use an Amazon Echo device.

In 2020, 69.7% of those in the U.S. who are using a smart speaker will use an Echo. That’s down slightly from last year (72.9%), but it still represents a dramatic advantage over the competition. Some 31.7% will use Google-branded devices, and 18.4% will use other brands like the Apple HomePod, Harman Kardon Invoke and Sonos One. (Note: Those percentages exceed 100% because some consumers use more than one brand.)

The number of smart speaker users will reach 83 million in 2020. That represents an increase of 14% from a year ago. But growth will slow into the single digits next year, eMarketer says, with the number of smart speaker users growing next year to 31% of all smart speaker users. That’s up from the current 29%.

“Smart speakers were designed as entry-level devices to get more people used to voice-controlled technology,” said Victoria Petrock, principal analyst at eMarketer. “Over time, we’ll see slowing growth in the number of smart speakers as people turn to voice assistants built into other things within homes, vehicles and on-the-go. Amazon’s next challenge will be to maintain its dominance in these other environments as well.”

eMarketer notes that while Amazon wasn’t the first to introduce a voice assistant, it has consistently been ahead of the pack when it comes to smart speakers. Since the introduction of the Echo (and voice assistant Alexa) six years ago, the company has added a steady stream of features making the device easier to use—repeatedly beating back its competitors in the process.

“We had previously expected Google and Apple to make more inroads in this market, but Amazon has remained aggressive,” Petrock says. “By offering affordable devices and building out the number of Alexa skills, the company has maintained Echo’s appeal.”