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NPREdison Frequency Voice Assistant Use May2020As of Spring 2020, one-quarter (24%) of adult Americans now own a Smart Speaker, up from 21% in 2019. Indeed use of Smart Speakers by their owners is on the rise, according to recent data [download page] from NPR and Edison Research.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, 36% of Smart Speaker owners are using their devices more to listen to music and entertainment, with 55% using them for this purpose the same amount and 1 in 10 (9%) using them less. These figures are closely mirrored by respondents’ recent use of Smart Speakers to listen to news and information (35%, 56% and 9% respectively).

This change in usage varies between age groups: half of 18-34 year olds are using their Smart Speaker more to listen to music and entertainment (52%) and news and information (50%) since the outbreak, while the same applies to only 18% and 16% of those aged 55+. This growth in usage comes amid findings that on-demand listening has been growing rapidly among Americans.

Not only that, but comfort with the use of voice commands appears to have grown during the pandemic. For the Spring 2020 survey almost two-thirds (63%) of adults reported ever using a voice-operated assistant, with smartphones (51%) the most common device for usage. Among those who use voice-operated assistants, half (52%) at the end of Q1 said they do so at least once per day, up from 46% at the beginning of the year.

Meanwhile, with penetration rates having increased, the number of Americans who own a Smart Speaker has grown from 53 million people in 2019 to around 60 million this year. What’s more, the percentage of owners with just one Smart Speaker has decreased from 52% to 47%, while the percentage with three or more has increased from 21% to 29%.

Though Americans are still most likely to listen to audio through a smartphone or tablet, the percentage most likely to use a Smart Speaker to do this has also risen, from 19% to 23%. Interestingly, compared to the use of voice assistants on smartphones, Smart Speakers are used far more to complete certain tasks. For example, Smart Speaker owners are 34% more likely to play music through their device than smartphone voice users. The former are also 22% more likely to check the time, 21% more likely to set reminders and 18% more likely to set a timer or alarm.

Read more in the full report here.

About the Data: Figures for 12/31/19 to 05/01/20 based on a survey of 1,015 adults; 3/31-4/1/20 based on a survey of 815 smart speaker owners, 428 non-owners who used voice-operated assistants on at least one other device, and 417 non-voice users.

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