Now 18% of Americans Own a Smart Speaker

Amazon Echo
Courtesy of Amazon

Amazon Echo

That's roughly 43 million people above the age of 18.

According to the most recent installment of a recurring study conducted by NPR and Edison, roughly 43 million Americans above the age of 18 -- or 18 percent of the population -- now own smart speakers. This is a 2 percent increase from the previous study, in which only about 39 million Americans above the age of 18 were estimated to own the device.

The Spring 2018 Smart Audio Report breaks down users into groups based on when they purchased their smart speakers, focusing on “first adopters” and the “early mainstream.” The first group have owned their smart speakers for over a year (26 percent of owners), while the latter group have owned them for under (74 percent). The majority of users from both groups were women and the majority of first adopters were above the age of 55, whereas the majority of the early mainstream were between the ages of 45 and 54.

The study uses data from these two groups to delve into hyper-specific questions about usage, noting trends of increased use over time for both of them. Topics covered in the study range from hours per day spent listening to news programming (typically between one and two hours across both groups) to percentage of children using the device to help with their homework. Overall, one in four smart speaker owners with children reported using the device for homework.  

Analyzing changing behaviors and attitudes surrounding smart speakers, the study found that 44 percent of early adopters and 58 percent of early mainstream users expected to purchase another smart speaker for their households. It also found the vast majority of current owners have had positive experiences -- 61 percent of early mainstream users and 52 percent of first adopters have encouraged their friends to purchase smart speakers. More than half of the survey respondents also agreed to the claim they “wouldn’t want to go back to life without your smart speaker.”

Notably, among smart speaker users, their smart speaker devices ranked first or second for how they listen to audio -- 25 percent of first adopters said they listened to audio most on their devices, while 22 percent of early mainstream users said they listened to audio most on their smart speakers, behind smartphones and tablets with 26 percent. Meanwhile, listening to music topped the requests of smart speakers, with 90 percent of first adopters and 89 percent of early mainstream users reporting they have asked their devices to perform that function in the past week. Overall, smart speakers are having a positive influence on audio listening, with 63 percent of first adopters and 70 percent of early mainstream users reporting they are listening to more audio with the device.

In total, 909 people were surveyed online -- with the only participation requirements being that one had to own a smart speaker and be at least 18 years old. This pool was used to project wider trends, as well as to estimate the total number of smart speaker users in the country.

Read about all of the NPR and Edison findings here.