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Voice Assistant Use Reaches Critical Mass

In just a few short years, Apple's Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant have gone from being virtual unknowns to familiar household names. As these voice assistants—and others—continue to gain traction on smartphones and smart speakers, the market is expanding quickly. Voice-control technology has officially moved out of the early-adopter phase and into the mainstream.

We estimate that 111.8 million people in the US will use a voice assistant at least monthly this year, up 9.5% from 102.0 million 2018. This amounts to 39.4% of US internet users and 33.8% of the overall population. By 2021, the number of US voice assistant users will reach 122.7 million, representing 42.2% of US internet users and 36.6% of the US population.

People use voice assistants for a variety of reasons and are conducting an increasing number of activities. Top tasks include getting directions, making phone calls, listening to music and finding nearby stores, according to a Social Lens Research study conducted in August 2018.

Voice assistant use also cuts across various demographics. For example, there will be 57.6 million female and 54.2 million male voice assistant users in the US this year. This equates to 34.4% of women and 33.3% of men who use voice assistants at least monthly. While early use tended to skew slightly more female, the percentage of males using voice assistants has accelerated in recent years.

Today, most people use their voice assistants on smartphones and smart speakers. Smartphones, by a wide margin, are most common. This is not surprising, given the sheer numbers: The US penetration rate for smartphones is 70.5%, and most models now come equipped with—or can download—voice assistant software.

Smart speaker use is also on the rise. We forecast that there will be 77.6 million users in the US this year, representing 27.3% of US internet users and 23.5% of the population. By 2021, this figure will grow to 88.7 million users, or 30.5% of US internet users and 26.5% of the population.

Over time, we expect the number of voice-assistant users to rise even further as the software finds its way into more devices, including cars, wearables, smart TVs, appliances and other connected gadgets.

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