Report: “Smart” speakers not being used to control other home devices

IHS Markit Smart Speaker Survey featuring amazon, apple, samsung, microsoft and google in table

A new report from research specialist IHS Markit found that as little as 6% of owners of “smart” speakers from the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google are actually being used to manage other technology in the home they can connect with.

Although a recent study from London-based research firm IHS found just over 5% of smart speaker owners (whether Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, Bixby, Alexa or ‘other’) were not using their device to connect to IoT lighting or heating technology, all hope is not lost. More of the participants surveyed in fact stated that they were using their Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple HomePod (or similar) to connect to/control their music (the third most common use) and to connect to/control their video (the fifth most popular choice).

Naturally, the most common uses of the speakers was found to be in line with what speaker manufacturers market to the mainstream, i.e. ‘Answer a question’ or ‘Make a phone call’ and ‘Check the weather/news’ (with ‘Make a Purchase’ interestingly coming in 7th, just before controlling other devices).

In its report, IHS says it expects the number of people using speakers to manage other devices in the home to change significantly in the near future.

It’s also worth noting that IHS went to less than a thousand people for the study (937 speaker owners in total), and only in specific marketplaces – the US, UK, Japan, Germany and Brazil (where product availability differs dependent on country), when millions of smart speakers have been sold to date around the world. IHS also didn’t pinpoint the exact criteria for choosing participants – obviously a tech-savvy homeowner would have a completely different approach to others, yet the study does show opportunity in the market for installers to show their worth in being the one to tie different devices together.

“Controlling smart home devices by voice currently represents only a small fraction of total smart-speaker interactions,” commented Blake Kozak, principal analyst, smart home at IHS Markit.

“However, this category will continue to trend upward as more video-streaming devices come to rely on voice control, as security alarm systems adopt voice control to arm and disarm, and as more builders embed smart devices throughout new homes.”

The research firm officially recognised approximately 4,100 “connected” devices on the market (spanning the heating, home appliance and security market) at the start of 2018, and predicts drivers like the insurance industry’s will increase how smart speakers will be used with other devices in the home in the future.

IHS forecasts that around 450,000 smart speakers will be connected to insurance companies by end of 2018.