CES 2018: Smart Speaker Ownership Sees Big Surge


LAS VEGAS — If you weren’t convinced that broadcast media is on the cusp of a possible at-home consumer renaissance, NPR and Edison Research just served up a bright report right on cue, as stormy weather blew east and the sun returned to Southern Nevada on Wednesday.

Thanks to a 2017 holiday sales surge, some 16% of Americans now own a voice-activated smart speaker.

While that may not sound like a significant percentage of U.S. consumers, think again: That’s up by 128% from January 2017.

The data was revealed this morning at CES 2018, and confirms the 2017 holiday season was a benchmark moment for smart speaker sales.

Among the key findings in The Smart Audio Report:

  • 7% of Americans acquired at least one smart speaker between Black Friday and the end of December 2017
  • 4% of Americans got their first smart speaker during that time

Furthermore, after just three years on the market, consumer adoption of smart speakers is tracking slightly ahead of smartphone adoption a decade ago: 14% of Americans owned a smartphone three years after the release of the Apple iPhone, NPR/Edison find.

A 30-minute presentation for CES attendees, “The Appeal of Smart Speakers: What’s Driving Sales?,” discussed how smart speakers are fueling adoption of smart technology broadly — including smart home applications — and affecting how often consumers engage with other platforms throughout the day.

Photo: Megan Lazovick via Twitter

NPR Chief Marketing Officer Meg Goldthwaite served as the moderator, with Edison Research VP/Strategy Tom Webster joined by Amazon Echo Director of Product Management Miriam Daniel and Google Director/Product Management-Home Hardware Micah Collins at the Smart Home conference track session.

Research was conducted via a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,010 persons ages 18 and older fielded after Christmas 2017. Edison also interviewed 800 respondents online who indicated that they owned at least one Smart Speaker; interviews were conducted from November 17-22, 2017.


Amazon continues to dominate the Smart Speaker category. More than two-thirds of Smart Speaker owners report having an Echo, Dot or other Alexa-based product. One quarter of Smart Speaker owners report having a Google Assistant product such as Google Home or Google Home Mini. Amazon’s Echo, the first smart speaker on the market, was introduced in November 2014.

“Voice-activated speakers are perhaps the most dynamic sector not only in the audio space but in consumer electronics in general,” said Webster. “In addition to all of the search-based conveniences and the home automation capabilities, they are increasing access to all manner of digital audio. Our research is finding very different behaviors within ‘Smart Speaker-enabled homes’ once people acquire these technologies.”

The session was held in the Las Vegas Convention Center’s North Hall, which was not impacted by a massive power outage that crippled the Central Hall midday Wednesday. The Central Hall experienced flooding on Tuesday as heavy rain swept through Southern Nevada. All Central Hall entrances were closed; Samsung, Intel and SONY are using the Central Hall for their exhibit booths.

— Alan Arazi, in Las Vegas