August 7, 2018 | Contributed by: Greg Sterling
In an article arguing that voice-commerce is not happening, The Information (subscription required) says “about 50 million” Alexa devices have sold to date.
The publication’s sources reportedly have seen “internal figures” from Amazon. While the bulk of the article is devoted to debunking the hype around voice shopping — reportedly, only 2% have bought anything with a smart speaker in 2018 — the overall device sales figures are equally interesting.
Analyst firms and other third parties have been estimating the total number of smart speakers in the market (US and globally). The range of estimates is from roughly 43 million to nearly 48 million in the US. One projection says that global smart speaker sales will reach 100 million this year.
It’s not clear whether the 50 million Amazon sales figure is North America only or global. The article suggests it’s total devices sold globally. There’s some evidence that Amazon has had greater success in the US and less success than Google in international markets.
If the 50 million number is US only it would argue, based on a 70 percent Amazon market share, that there are about 70 million smart speakers in the US today. That number is clearly too high; so the 50 million must be a global figure.
Some third party estimates assert that the US constitutes something approaching or roughly 50 percent of the global smart speaker market. But more than 50 percent of Amazon’s Echo sales are likely in the US.
Let’s say (based on informed speculation) that about 75 percent of Amazon’s smart speaker sales are in the US, that would mean a total of about 37.5 million Echo devices reside in the US today.
That would in turn mean a total smart speaker installed base of about 54 million in the US. Earlier survey-based extrapolation argued for an installed base of 47 million in the American market — not far off.
Why does all this matter? Why is it more than an academic exercise?
It’s because smart speakers are becoming a new mass-market platform for content, commerce and product discovery. And there’s some evidence that digital media time and usage patterns are being impacted by smart speaker ownership.