Voice-activated speakers powered by intelligent assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, are growing faster than the smartphone and tablets at a similar stage.1 But how are these devices and assistants being used and what is the potential for news? There are very few data available about the usage of news content on these platforms, or on publisher and platform strategies around news. This report aims to address these gaps by combining in-home research with focus groups, surveys, and interviews to provide a snapshot of current behaviours in the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany. We have also interviewed more than 20 publishers, and other experts to understand more about current perceptions and future potential.advertising promotion
This report is focused on a new set of devices – smart speakers – but the technological changes that lie behind them are much more profound, as intelligent assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, and Samsung Bixby will ultimately sit inside many other devices we rely on in our everyday life, from phones to cars and beyond.
Penetration of voice-activated speakers is growing rapidly and is now reaching mainstream audiences, but currently most usage is at a basic level with much consumer frustration around more complex tasks.
More than one in ten US adults (14%) regularly use these devices equating to around 34m people and 17m homes. Usage in the UK (10%) and Germany (5%) is a little lower but has roughly doubled in the last year.
For heavy users, voice is now the first and final contact point with technology (often replacing the smartphone or radio in the bedroom). This suggests that voice could become a critical gateway to media going forward.
Most users report high levels of satisfaction with their smart speakers. Almost a third of owners (32% in the UK) have bought additional devices. Two-thirds (69%) say they will replace or upgrade their speaker when this becomes necessary. They find them convenient and fun, but usage is today largely confined to a small set of basic ‘command and control’ tasks such as accessing music, asking for the weather, or setting timers.