Pew Research revealed research results from May 2017 that 46% of American adults use voice assistants. In the 18-49 category, the figure is even higher at 55%. A shortcoming of the data released is the lack of insight into frequency of use. There is a big difference between using voice assistants once, monthly or daily. However, the fact that about half of Americans are using voice assistants already may explain why smart speaker adoption has been faster than expected.
Smartphone Voice Assistant Use Dominates
Another key finding is that five times more consumers use voice assistants on smartphones than on smart speakers. Forty-two percent use voice assistants on mobile, 14% on computers or tablets and 8% on smart speakers (i.e. standalone devices). That 8% figure aligns well with an Edison Research survey conducted in April that suggested 7% of adult Americans owned a smart speaker.
Smart speaker adoption has grown by several million users since the time of this survey so that figure is almost certainly well over 10% today. However, even if it tripled, smartphone voice assistant usage would still be more than double that on smart speakers. This is important to keep in mind. Amazon Echo is has a strong smart speaker market share lead in the U.S., but Google Assistant and Apple Siri users are still likely to outnumber Alexa users for some time. In addition, hearables, wireless earbuds that access voice assistants through smartphones, will have an installed based of 29 million in 2017. The embedded smartphone user base is a tremendous asset for voice assistant proliferation.
55% Voice Assistant Use Driven by Hands Free Convenience
The study also found that 55% of users said a “major reason” for using voice assistants was “lets me use the device without my hands.” “Spoken language feels more natural than typing” was selected as the “major reason” by 22% of survey participants. The fact is that voice interaction is simply more convenient than touch or type in many situations.