Amazon has a knack for making simple hardware popular. First, it was the humble e-reader. Now, it’s the voice-controlled speaker.
The e-commerce giant holds a 70.6% market share in the new category, which it invented with the Amazon Echo in 2014, according to research from eMarketer. The report suggests that Google is poised to take more of the market in 2017, but that Amazon will still lead by a wide margin.
More Americans also are expected to start using the virtual personal assistants, whether they are in home speakers like the Echo or Google Home, or functioning as part of cellphones or other products. Researchers say 60.5 million Americans will use Amazon’s Alexa, Google Now, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Apple’s Siri at least once per month in 2017, a 23.1% increase over last year. That equates to one-fifth of the people who use smartphones.
Unsurprisingly, millennials are credited with driving virtual personal assistant adoption, with just over one-third of the generation predicted to use one this year.
For Amazon, this is great news. The company has recently began a campaign to make Alexa synonymous with voice assistants: Other developers can now use Alexa in their own applications, and the virtual personal assistant was shoe-horned into dozens of products on display at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.
Amazon’s market share in voice-controlled speakers mirrors its success in another business, e-books. Reports indicate that Amazon, blamed with contributing to the downfall of physical book stores like Borders, now enjoys a 74% of the e-book market.