Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos owes a thank you to consumers between the ages of 17 and 36 for the incredible lead its Echo device has in the voice-enabled speaker market.
While using devices like the Echo or Apple's (AAPL) voice assistant Siri is still not the norm in the U.S. in 2017, their popularity is growing, according to a new study from eMarketer. A big part of that usage is coming from the tech-savvy millennials, with a third of the generation saying they use a virtual assistant
When looking specifically at voice-enabled speakers that can provide everyday help by telling you the weather forecast or the day's top headlines, Amazon's Echo claims 70.6% of the market, followed by Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google Home, which claims just 23.8% of the market. The remaining 5.6% of the pie is shared by smaller players, such as Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon, and Mattel.
Part of the Echo's clear lead is simply because it was released back in November 2014, while Google Home was released just this past November. eMarketer VP of Forecasting Martín Utreras said he thinks Google was late to the game because search has more of a clear path to monetization for Google vs. hardware, particularly when it comes to the still relatively new digital assistant pieces of hardware. "In general, Google has been less aggressive than Amazon when it comes to hardware," he added.
The two devices might be facing competition from Apple soon, according to a note from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in early May. The top analyst said there's more than a 50% chance that the tech giant will announce an Echo competitor at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) this June and start selling it in the second half of this year.
This prediction was echoed by Australian "leaker" Sonny Dickson when he tweeted that Apple's home assistant will be a direct competitor of Amazon's Alexa and will utilize Beats technology and run a version of Apple's iOs.
Apple is currently finalising designs for their Alexa competitor, expected to be marketed as a Siri/AirPlay device.— Sonny Dickson (@SonnyDickson) April 27, 2017
As competition heats up in the sector, the Echo will obviously lose part of its share in the market, but it will still keep its lead for the foreseeable future, eMarketer said. This is significant for Amazon considering the number of Americans who will use a voice-enabled speaker at least once a month in 2017 will jump by 128.9% year-over-year to 35.6 million.