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Smart Speakers Are Already Here, But Are Displays Up Next?

Surveys show that one in three Americans owns a smart speaker — and those numbers skew much higher among music lovers, younger consumers and more affluent consumers.

Yet according to a recent CivicScience post, the Amazon Echo, Google Home devices and the like may already be on their way out in favor of smart displays.

“It appears the smart speaker market has matured,” says CivicScience’s Jeff Edelstein. “After a years-long steady rocketship-rise in ownership, the number of Americans who say they own a smart speaker has started to level off in recent months.”

Part of the reason, Edelstein argues, is that the people who now own (or intend to own) smart speakers are also people most likely to jump to the latest technology.

Age plays a significant role. “Consumers ages 35-54 own smart speakers at the highest rate, but future sales look like they will be primarily driven by Gen Z,” Edelstein says. “Eighteen percent say they ‘intend’ to purchase a smart speaker in the future, which is more than double those in the 25-54 age bracket, and triple those 55+.”

As you might expect, consumers who say they follow tech trends own or want smart speakers at the highest rate (38% own, 8% want). Yet those numbers aren’t that much higher than people who consider themselves less on trend with tech: In the moderately tech-savvy group, 34% own and 7% want a smart speaker. And among those who don’t follow tech trends, ownership is at 27%.

And while smart speakers are used for everything from news to weather to recipes (people who enjoy cooking are 28% more likely to own a smart speaker than the “let’s get takeout” crowd), CivicScience points out a “striking” enthusiasm for smart speakers among music lovers, per a survey of more than 11,000 consumers conducted this summer.

“People who are deeply passionate about music own smart speakers at a higher rate than non-passionate music fans,” the post says. “But the intent-to-buy numbers among these passionate music fans? It’s at 16%, which is more than triple the percentage of people who say music is ‘important’ to them and at five times the rate of people who couldn’t care less about music. Clearly, young music fans should be targeted, and targeted heavily.”

Yet Edelstein seems to question whether those buyers will gravitate toward smart speakers, or whether the market is ready to move on to smart displays.

“While smart speaker growth shows signs of slowing, next-generation devices such as smart displays — like the Amazon Echo Show and Google Home Hub — are starting to show signs of spiking,” Edelstein says. CivicScience tracking shows ownership has nearly doubled since Q4 2018.

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