Amazon Echo Commands 70 Percent Of Burgeoning Voice-Enabled Speaker Market

Launching a successful technology product is sometimes all about timing. That was certainly the case when Amazon came out Echo two and a half years ago. The proliferation of increasingly affordable Internet of Things (IoT) products had started to bring smart home functionality into the mainstream, and with every modern smartphone wielding a digital assistant of some sort, Amazon figured (correctly) the market was ripe for a smart home speaker. Hence the Echo was born. Now going on three years later, Amazon is still dominating the smart speaker market.

That is according to a new study, which pegs Amazon's share of the voice-controlled speaker market at precisely 70.6 percent. Put another way, just over 7 out of 10 smart speakers sold is an Echo device. That is not too surprising since Amazon was both first out of the gate and continues to see limited competition—Google is Amazon's main rival, with Microsoft and Harman Kardon getting ready to enter the fray later this year.

Amazon Echo

Whether Amazon can hold onto its dominant position remains to be seen. In the U.S. alone, it is predicted that 35.6 million Americans will use a voice-activated digital assistant device at least once a month. While smart speakers have not yet reached mass adoption status, it is growing—Lenovo, LG, and Mattel are other players that are already in the game or have smart speaker products on tap.

"Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the technology, which is driving engagement," said Martín Utreras, vice president of forecasting at eMarketer. "As prices decrease and functionality increases, consumers are finding more reasons to adopt these devices."

To that point, Amazon's Echo devices now feature more than 10,000 Alexa skills that are just a voice command away. It is not just about firing up playlists and ordering products from Amazon anymore—Alexa has a wide range of skills that allows users to do everything from summon an Uber to have pizza delivered. A user even tune a guitar through Alexa.

One thing the report does not touch on is privacy. One of the downsides to a speaker that is always listening is that it might hear and store things that you did not mean to record. This came to light when prosecutors in a murder trial asked Amazon to share data that was collected by an Echo device owned by the murder suspect. Amazon initially refused citing the First Amendment, but relented after the defendant gave permission to share the data.