Previous Blogs

May 5, 2017
Intel Opens High-Tech "Garage"

May 2, 2017
The Hidden Value of Analog

April 28, 2017
Google’s Waymo Starts Driving Passengers

April 25, 2017
The Robotic Future

April 21, 2017
Sony Debuts New Pro Camera

April 18, 2017
Should Apple Build a Car?

April 14, 2017
PC Market Outlook Improving

April 11, 2017
Little Data Analytics

April 7, 2017
Facebook Debuts Free Version of Workplace Collaboration Tool

April 4, 2017
Samsung Building a Platform Without an OS

March 31, 2017
Microsoft Announces Windows 10 Creators Update Release Date

March 28, 2017
Augmented Reality Finally Delivers on 3D Promise

March 24, 2017
Intel Creates AI Organization

March 21, 2017
Chip Magic

March 17, 2017
Microsoft Unveils Teams Chat App

March 14, 2017
Computing on the Edge

March 7, 2017
Cars Need Digital Safety Standards Too

February 28, 2017
The Messy Path to 5G

February 24, 2017
AMD Launches Ryzen CPU

February 21, 2017
Rethinking Wearable Computing

February 17, 2017
Samsung Heir Arrest Unlikely to Impact Sales

February 14, 2017
Modern Workplaces Still More Vision Than Reality

February 10, 2017
Lenovo Develops Energy-Efficient Soldering Technology

February 7, 2017
The Missing Map from Silicon Valley to Main Street

January 31, 2017
The Network vs. The Computer

January 27, 2017
Facebook Adds Support For FIDO Security Keys

January 24, 2017
Voice Drives New Software Paradigm

January 20, 2017
Tesla Cleared of Fault in NHTSA Crash Probe

January 17, 2017
Inside the Mind of a Hacker

January 13, 2017
PC Shipments Stumble but Turnaround is Closer

January 10, 2017
Takeaways from CES 2017

January 3, 2017
Top 10 Tech Predictions for 2017

2016 Blogs

2015 Blogs

2014 Blogs

2013 Blogs

TECHnalysis Research Blog

May 9, 2017
Getting Smart on Smart Speakers

By Bob O'Donnell

Timing, as they say, is everything. Particularly if you’ve got something to add to an already hot topic that’s reaching fever peak levels this week.

I’m talking, of course, about smart speakers, such as Amazon’s expanding Echo line of products, Google’s Home, the unusual C by GE Sol smart lamp, and the new Microsoft-driven Invoke coming from Harman Kardon, which is now a division of Samsung.

Having just fielded, a little more than a week ago, a brand new TECHnalysis Research study to 1,000 US consumers who own at least some smart home devices, I have some very fresh data to inject into the conversation.

To set the stage, it’s interesting to note that about ¼ of US households now have at least one piece of smart home gear in their possession, according to the study. From smart light bulbs and connected door locks, to home security cameras and beyond, it appears that the smart home phenomenon is finally moving into the mainstream.

Much of that reach, it turns out, is due to recent purchases of smart speakers. In fact, the category is by far the most popular smart home device now in use, with 56% of those smart households reporting that they own and use a smart speaker, with 60% of those purchases occurring in the last six months. (Smart thermostats were the second most common device at 44%, with smart light bulbs third at 30%.)

And use them they do. One-half of the smart speaker-owning respondent base said they use it at least daily (just under one quarter said they use it multiple times per day), and another 39% said they engage with it several times a week. As for what they ask their smart speaker, there are some fascinating differences between user ages, but the top five requests across the entire respondent base are (in order) to play music, for the weather, for news, for basic facts or trivia, and for calendar or scheduling information.

Interestingly, despite the increased usage, the reactions to these devices are decidedly mixed. Smart speakers managed to garner the top spot in both the list of favorite smart home products that respondents own, as well as the list of least favorite smart home products they own. Go figure.

Actually, when you dig into the reasons why they felt that way, it’s clear that most consumers see smart speakers as an exciting and intriguing new product category, but one that still needs improvement. The top reasons for why it was their favorite include most useful, most practical, and easiest to use. The top reasons for why it was their least favorite are least practical, least useful, and hardest to use. Obviously, there’s potential there, but also a lot of work that needs to be done to improve many consumers’ experiences with these devices.

As for market share, the results from the TECHnalysis Research study were nearly identical to the recently reported eMarketer numbers, with Amazon capturing just under 71% of current users, Google Home at roughly 26%, and 3% for Other. How those number shake out through the end of the year, however, remains to be seen.

One of the key expected developments in smart speakers is the addition of a screen, such as in the new Amazon Echo Show, potentially for video calls, but also for other applications. When asked about the potential interest in these other applications, respondents came back with some surprising results. Instead of a full-blown web browser, the top applications they wanted to see were clocks or timers, personal calendar information, weather or news headlines, and media information, such as album art. All of these preferences suggest interest in more of a visual reinforcement of the voice-based information they receive from a smart speaker, and not another visual display-focused device.

The smart speaker category is still in its earliest stages. There are bound to be many more companies, many more devices, many more enhancements, and lots of interesting developments yet to come. It’s clear from this latest research, though, that the category has sparked tremendous consumer interest and will be an incredibly important one to watch for years to come.

(If you’re interested in learning more about the complete study, please feel free to contact me at

Here's a link to the column:

Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.

Leveraging more than 10 years of award-winning, professional radio experience, TECHnalysis Research participates in regular audio podcasts in conjunction with the team at
  Research Offerings
TECHnalysis Research offers a wide range of research deliverables that you can read about here.