Voice-enabled speakers poised for big gains in 2017

A new report from eMarketer projects that over 35 million Americans will use a voice-enabled speaker at least once a month this year -- an increase of almost 130 percent.

Ry Crist Senior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
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Ry Crist
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Watch this: Alexa, can anyone dethrone the Echo?

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A new report from eMarketer projects that voice-enabled smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home will see significant gains in 2017. How significant? One figure pegs usage rates jumping by almost 130 percent, with over 35 million Americans set to use a smart speaker at least once per month.

Over 70 percent of that usage will fall to Amazon by way of Alexa, the company's three-year-old voice-activated virtual assistant. Alexa is housed in the Amazon Echo, the smaller-sized Amazon Echo Dot, the battery-powered Amazon Tap and a growing number of third-party Alexa devices. Google Home will gobble up another 23.8 percent of users. The rest will go to names such as LG and Mattel, which have significantly less skin in the game.

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A purported Echo device with a built-in screen is reportedly on the way.

Evan Blass

Though Google is continuing to make gains on Alexa, eMarketer forecasts that Amazon is set to stay in the dominant position "for the foreseeable future."

eMarketer vice president of forecasting Martín Utreras credits growing consumer comfort with voice assistants for the smart speaker's steady rise, adding, "As prices decrease and functionality increases, consumers are finding more reasons to adopt these devices."

The report also points to the buying power of millennials, claiming that one in three Americans aged 25-34 will use a voice assistant this year.

The eMarketer report comes on the heels of Amazon's newest Alexa gadget, the camera-equipped Amazon Echo Look. CNET also reports that a screen-equipped Echo device, codenamed "Knight," could be making its debut as soon as this week.