Just ask Alexa: Globally, smart speakers are used most in India's English-speaking homes

The use of digital voice assistants is surging worldwide, shows a new study, and an estimated 8 billion gadgets will be equipped with them in five years

g_113435_smart_speaker_280x210.jpgImage: Shutterstock

The penetration of smart speakers among English-speaking Internet users in India was marginally more than that in the US too, as of November 2018, shows data from market researcher and consultancy IHS Markit.

The numbers were released in a recent report, based on a survey that IHS conducted in eight countries including India. IHS didn’t take into account Indian net users who spoke other languages, according to a press release on February 21. Smart-speaker penetration among English-speaking net users in India was 20.9 percent, the most among all the countries surveyed. The penetration was 20.7 percent in the US.

Overall, the penetration of these speakers, including those from Amazon and Google, was 13 percent as of November, IHS found. The other countries were Australia (10.7 percent), Brazil (5.7 percent), Canada (12.2 percent), Germany (12.7 percent), Japan (5.6 percent) and Britain (18.3 percent). IHS surveyed 19,286 internet users across these countries.

“Sound quality is often just as important as integration to consumers—if not more important, in some cases—particularly among those with access to speakers from Bose, JBL Link, Panasonic, Sony and other traditional audio brands,” Fateha Begum, associate director, IHS Markit, said in the press release. “Smart speaker households in India and Brazil were more likely to select sound quality as the most important factor.”

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Among Amazon Echo and Google Home owners, the ability to answer questions was most frequently cited as the most important feature, highlighting the quality of their proprietary digital assistants, Begum added.

Improvement in data connectivity in the country, especially over the last two years, has led to many Indian households that have access to the internet take to digital assistants with gusto. Both Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa platforms are popular in India, as are the corresponding smart speakers — Google Home and Amazon Echo. And as both Google and Amazon invest further in supporting other Indian languages—Hindi, for instance is already supported—the popularity of voice-based assistants will only rise.

Worldwide, some eight billion gadgets will be equipped with digital voice assistants through 2023, compared with an estimated 2.5 billion by the end of 2018, reported Mediavataar, a news site for brands and marketing, earlier this month, citing a study by Juniper Research. Smart televisions are expected to grow fastest at the compounded rate of 121.3 percent each year over the next five years, followed by smart speakers (41.3 percent) and wearables (40.2 percent).

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