The number of people who use voice-controlled devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home is expected to climb to 35.6 million by the end of 2017. As such, it is intriguing to think about what exactly these people use devices for. Activity automation app If This Then That (IFTTT) sought to answer that question by polling some of its users over a few days, with the data showing they use their devices for more than just turning the lights on and off.
In terms of device ownership, almost 70 percent said they owned an Amazon device, whether that be the Echo, Dot, or Tap. By comparison, a little over 17 percent said they owned a Google Home. Interestingly enough, the numbers almost match up with what was reported to be the voice-controlled speaker market share, though those numbers are expected to shift over time.
What stood out more is the seeming dissonance between ownership of another connected device and the reason for purchasing a voice assistant. An overwhelming majority of respondents (91.4 percent) stated they owned some other kind of connected device, such as smart lighting, wearables, and smart thermostats. Even so, voice assistants were primarily used for streaming music, setting timers, and getting the weather forecast.
Only controlling smart lights cracked the top five, with more folks using their voice assistants for more mundane, everyday tasks than something more technologically impressive like controlling a thermostat. In some way, this tells us that people are more likely to use their voice assistants as a way to do stuff they already did prior to purchasing the assistants: checking the news, listening to the radio, setting alarms and timers, and more. They are not out to build a smart home and have everything in their home talk to each other.
There are other tidbits that point to the voice assistant market becoming more popular in the future, such as 98 percent saying they will use voice assistants five years from now and 90 percent saying they are at least somewhat more likely to buy a connected device in the future.
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Something to keep in mind is that IFTTT sampled 1,531 IFTTT users (who are likely more tech-savvy than average), so the data might not be as generalizable to the overall population as if they went out to survey random people. Even so, the data tells us that just because you buy an Amazon Echo, it does not mean you do it to play nice with your garage.