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People aren’t using smart speakers to do anything particularly smart

Tetsuya Tomomatsu/Unsplash
“Hey Alexa, play some office tunes.”
  • Karen Hao
By Karen Hao

Junior Data Scientist & Contributor

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

For all of the investment dollars that Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Apple have funneled into developing smart speakers, their users aren’t actually using these devices to do anything interesting.

According to a new report released by Activate, the majority of smart speaker owners just use them for a small set of mundane functions, like playing music, getting the weather, or setting alarms. Even super users, who use their devices at least three times a day, aren’t requesting tasks that require much intelligence.

The low utilization of smart speakers’ functionality may be due in part to challenges in skill discovery. For example, only 35% of US Alexa users have enabled a third-party skill.

Despite that, smart speakers have continued to grow in popularity. Currently, 17% of US consumers own at least one smart speaker, and Activate projects its adoption to grow faster than any other consumer device.


But there will be a limit to the growth. Once digital assistants decouple from the smart speaker interface and get integrated into other consumer products such as messaging apps, computers, and cars, purchasing a standalone speaker will lose much of its appeal, Activate projects.

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