Voice assistants are progressively becoming embedded in daily life as the technologies behind these products improve. Tech companies are increasingly centralizing their product strategies around voice assistants by incorporating them into more products to build out their respective ecosystems.
Voice assistant users are growing at a slow but steady pace. This year, we estimate that 142.0 million people in the US, or 42.1% of the population, will use a voice assistant. In our latest forecast, we revised our 2022 estimate upward by 2.9 million users, largely because expected supply chain issues never materialized. By 2026, more than half of internet users in the US will use a voice assistant.
More people will use voice assistants, like Siri and Google Assistant, on smartphones than on smart speakers. We project that 125.2 million people in the US will use a voice assistant on a smartphone this year. And 88.1% of voice assistant users will use the voice assistant on their smartphones.
Smartphone-based voice assistants can also be used to access a variety of other devices, like cars and smart home tech. For example, it is more common for users to access connected car services through phone-connected platforms like Apple’s CarPlay than the embedded systems that come in vehicles. We increased our latest 2022 estimate of smartphone-based voice assistant users by 3.8 million because supply chain issues were not as detrimental as anticipated.
In 2022, Google continues to lead in number of voice assistant users, likely due to sales growth of Google Home, Nest Home, and Android devices. Amazon will be a close second, with Apple trailing closely behind. Future long-term growth will largely be driven by the launch of new products and significant investments into underlying technologies like natural language processing (NLP). Voice assistant users are likely to use more than one type of voice assistant since they are all interoperable across devices.
The emergence of the metaverse may shift these market share patterns around. In February of this year, Meta announced plans to launch an AI voice assistant intended to be better than existing products. The company plans to create both new hardware and software to meet this goal. But it remains to be seen if Meta can hit these lofty goals, and how Google, Amazon, and Apple will approach their own development of metaverse products.
Millennials are comparatively heavy voice assistant users. Penetration of voice assistants in this cohort, ages 25 to 34, will be 65.8% in 2022, higher than any other age group. Voice assistant usage skews a bit older than other technologies, likely because millennials were coming of age when these devices came out. More users will be in the 35-to-44 age range than in the 18-to-24 range. The 55-and-older demographic will see low penetration.
Why we care: Engage and reengage. Marketers should focus on figuring out what about their current engagement strategy is working, then find ways to reengage users. Focusing on untapped demand—such as by developing new features for growing age groups like millennials and the elderly—can entice more users to use voice assistants.
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