With news that Amazon is officially sold out (online) of Echo and Tap products until after the holidays, it looks like the smart speaker with personal assistant technology category has found its legs. Parks Associates forecasts 6 million U.S. sales for the category in 2016, which would double U.S. sales from 2015.
Several trends are driving the smart speaker/personal assistant device market. First, consumer familiarity and use with personal assistant software are one the rise, thanks to smartphone-based voice-controlled assistants like Apple’s Siri and Google Now/Google Assistant. As of Q3 2016, nearly 40% of U.S. smartphone owners reported using voice recognition software on their phones – a figure that rises to 46% of millennial smartphone owners.
Second, the accuracy of voice technology is improving. Google Now, Baidu, Siri, and Windows Cortana all have reported accuracy rates of more than 90%. Still, improvements must be made in contextual understanding, learned commands, detection of emotion and tone, and voice identification.
Third, there is a distinct need to simplify consumer interaction with the growing number of connected devices in our lives. The average U.S. broadband household has 8.1 connected computing, entertainment, or mobile devices, plus another 2.1 smart home devices. Interfacing with these devices is fragmented. Voice allows for the integration of control methods that enable users to communicate naturally and intuitively with connected devices as if they were a system, designed to work together.
Parks Associates’ industry report, Transforming the Smart Home User Experience, evaluates the potential of voice control to shake up various connected home markets, presents consumer preferences for smart product interfaces, and forecasts sales of connected devices with embedded voice-control through 2021.