About 20% of U.S. homes that have Wi-Fi own a smart speaker, according to new data from market research firm comScore Inc.
That amounts to about 18.7 million U.S. households and is nearly a seven percentage point increase from just 13% of Wi-Fi homes having a smart speaker in December 2017.
ComScore projects the sudden spike in ownership is related to a growing number of devices available to shoppers and lower prices over the holiday shopping season. For example, Amazon.com Inc. (No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500) has multiple devices that run its voice-enabled Alexa software, including the Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Show, Echo Spot, Echo Look and Echo Dot. Amazon sold its Echo Dot for $29 throughout the holiday season.
And that’s just Amazon. Google Inc. has its smart speaker Google Home and the Google Home mini at $49. And Apple Inc. has its smart speaker called the HomePod, which it launched in February.
Apple missed its December release date, which meant the device wasn’t available over the holiday shopping period when shoppers were buying Alexa-enabled and Google devices. Plus, priced at $349, the HomePod is expensive and sales, to date, have been lackluster.
During the HomePod’s first 10 weeks of sales, it eked out 10% of the smart-speaker market, compared with 73% for Amazon’s Echo devices and 14% for the Google Home, according to Slice Intelligence. Three weeks after the launch, weekly HomePod sales slipped to about 4% of the smart speaker category on average, the market research firm says. Inventory is piling up, according to Apple store workers who say some locations are selling fewer than 10 HomePods a day. Apple declined to comment.
Plus, unlike Amazon’s and Google’s devices that can answer questions and order pizzas, the HomePod is mostly limited to playing tunes from Apple Music, controlling a limited number of Apple-optimized smart home appliances and sending messages through an iPhone.
Meanwhile, consumers are shopping with their Amazon and Google devices. More than 44% of shoppers use their voice-enabled smart speakers to shop, according to an exclusive Internet Retailer survey with Toluna of 274 online shoppers in December 2017.
While smart speaker homes are more likely to be high-income households than low-income households, with lower-cost speakers available to shoppers, more low-income households own the device, according to comScore data.
“We see the demographics shifting away from the traditional early innovators and early adopters to the early majority,” said Susan Engleson, comScore’s senior director, emerging products, in a release about the data.
A growing number of households also have multiple smart speakers, according to comScore data. About 30% of U.S. homes in February 2018 had more than one smart speaker, up from 20% in June 2017. Plus, 10.5% of households had more than three devices in February 2018, according to comScore.
Bloomberg News contributed to this article.