Smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home have already had a strong influence on the lives of people who use them, according to new research from Strategy Analytics. In the report, Smart Speaker User Survey – Global Results, nearly half (49%) of users said that they could not imagine living without a smart speaker, and nearly two thirds (65%) said that they had greatly improved the way they use technology at home. 

Even more people (70%) thought that smart speakers were much more useful than they had expected, but at the same time, 63% remain concerned that voice-controlled devices might record sounds and conversations without consent. The survey was fielded online with 4013 users of smart speakers in July and August 2018 in the US, France, Germany and the UK. Other key findings from the research include:

° When controlling technology, voice control is preferred to a touchscreen by 67% of smart speaker users. 

° More than half of smart speaker users have installed more than one device in their home. The most popular location is the living room or family room (64%), followed by the bedroom (33%) and the kitchen (29%).

° The most popular applications are listening to music or radio (91% do this at least weekly), getting weather information (73%), finding out general information (69%) and listening to the news (67%).

° 82% of homes with smart speakers use at least one Amazon device while 29% use a Google product. JBL (7%) and Apple (6%) come next.

° 25% of people who don’t currently use a smart speaker say they will buy one within the next year

“For most users, smart speakers have already become one of the most important technologies in the connected home,” says David Watkins, director, Smart Speakers at Strategy Analytics. “The convenience and simplicity of voice control and interaction have helped to change the way people are using different devices and have important implications for how applications, services and content will evolve in the future.”

David Mercer, principal analyst and the report’s author, notes: “Smart speakers are achieving some of the highest satisfaction ratings noted for any emerging consumer technology. The evidence from this research suggests that they are here to stay and that many people who have not yet taken the plunge are likely to purchase their first smart speaker in the next year or so.”

Strategy Analytics research predicts that global demand for smart speakers will reach 71.6 million units in 2018, an annual increase of 115%.