Amazon Echo, commonly referred to as “Alexa,” has become one of the most popular gadgets to debut in recent years. People the world over are embracing all of the ways that the device, first available in June 2015, can aid in managing the home and day-to-day life. While this kind of technology is often thought to appeal to only younger demographics, Boomers are finding new and innovative ways to use Echo to meet their specific needs.
Click Image To Enlarge
The device, by nature, is one that relies on auditory interaction instead of visual input. As we age, many people have trouble seeing the small screen offered by a phone, finding it even more difficult to use the tiny keyboard to enter text. Through the voice command interface offered by Echo, Boomers are finding features easier to use. Need to make a grocery list? Just ask aloud that Alexa add an item to your list, and she’ll compile all of your requested items so you can review them later. She’ll even send a text message to your phone or tablet with the list to help you when shopping in the store.
Click Image To Enlarge
One of the truly modern marvels of Echo is the ability to manage your home through the Internet of Things – those household devices that connect to the Internet. The device can be paired with several other gadgets now on the market to create a truly interconnected home management system.
Phillips offers its Hue line of light bulbs. When the bulbs are connected to the Echo, they can be controlled by simple voice command, making turning lights on and off a breeze. This function is very helpful for seniors traversing a home, letting users turn lights on before moving, providing added safety and security. Remember those times when you heard a strange noise in the house? Now the user can turn the lights on before leaving the bedroom to check it out!
The popular Nest thermostat system can be connected to Echo, allowing a user to control a home’s temperature by simply asking for it to be warmer or colder. The Nest also connects to phones and tablets, letting loved ones keep an eye on home temperature and energy usage from any location.
While any age demographic might find these abilities helpful, Boomers are especially appreciative as Echo combines the control of several devices into one easy-to-use interface that can take commands from anyone in the household, such as family members and caregivers.
The Echo’s reminder system is also very powerful when put to use for a Boomer. It can help remind users to take medications and set notifications for myriad daily tasks. These functions are especially useful for those with early-onset dementia, as the device never tires of reminding users what they need to do or of answering questions that a caregiver might find repetitive.
Retirement communities around the country are also seeing the benefits of these devices, offering them pre-installed in homes. These systems can be a huge benefit for the community, as they can sample information on power efficiency in units, check on resident safety and provide another vehicle for communication/information-sharing.
As this type of technology continues to evolve and grow, it is expected that additional interconnected products will be aimed squarely at the Boomer market. Google has entered the fray with its own in-home assistant, and several companies are developing similar devices for niche audiences, such as children and seniors. Additionally, more connected products are being developed each day. These include health management applications and devices, communication aides and, of course, new and varied entertainment options. By combining all of these functions into a device that doesn’t rely on a screen, manufacturers have found a niche for those who desire to age in place, providing control of their home by voice alone.
By embracing these advances, Boomers and seniors are finding ways to remain in their homes longer. Professionals marketing and selling to these demographics would do well to fully understand these products. They should definitely make them a part of their offerings going forward, whether that be interconnected applications or pre-installed, in home packages.
According to the 2017 Voice Report from VoiceLabs, Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers will sell more than 24 million units combined through the end of 2017.
The report, which combines data from multiple sources, including CIRP, KPCB and InfoScout, shows that a total of 24.5 million devices will be sold by Google and Amazon in 2017.
Click Image To Enlarge
The report also shows that the total footprint of voice-first devices will hit 33 million units by the end of the year after expanding by 24.5 million units, which means there are only a total of 8.5 million units of Amazon Echo and Google Home combined.
That’s a little hard to believe, and it conflicts with information from Morgan Stanley, which showed that there were more than 11 million Amazon Echo devices sold between mid-2015 and December 1, 2016.
Both reports can’t be true, obviously, but we have to remember that both of them are estimates rather than actuals. There’s no way to get the actual numbers because only Amazon knows what those are – and they’re being very tight-lipped about it, other than the fact that Amazon Echo devices sold 9 times more during Cyber Week 2016 than the year before.
We know that Amazon sold at least 1 million Amazon Echo devices during the 2015 holiday season, possibly more. 9 times that means the company sold at least 9 million units at the end of 2016. That information comes directly from Amazon, so it has to be accurate.
As it stands, we believe that Morgan Stanley’s numbers are closer to being correct. What’s more, the investment bank even said that the estimate of 11 million is “likely very low.”
If that’s the case, then there are already between 11 million and 15 million Amazon Echo and its variants out there. But the VoiceLabs estimate is about 9 million in total – Amazon Echo and Google Home combined. That’s why we believe the number is way off.
However, what’s interesting is that the voice-first market is estimated to grow nearly four times over the course of 2017. According to their sources, that works out to 33 million devices by the end of this year.
Now, if we use the data from Morgan Stanley and the growth estimate from VoiceLabs’ sources, something interesting emerges: total voice-first device units will grow to at least 45 to 50 million devices by the end of 2017.
Amazon Echo will continue to dominate that market, at least through 2017, and Google Home and other smart speaker makers who have released or are releasing similar products this year will each get a share of market.
For Amazon, that’s great news because theirs is the only device that will offer direct voice shopping from Amazon’s extensive catalog of items.
Assuming that the figures are anywhere near accurate, we could see a further spurt in Amazon’s retail revenues in North America. The unit is already hitting close to $20 billion in revenues – $18.87 billion reported in the last quarter, to be exact. That figure should be well over $20 billion for the holiday quarter, which is being reported on February 2, 2017.
If they see a further spurt in growth based on voice shopping sales through Amazon Echo devices, 2017 could be the year that Amazon’s North America retail division alone hits the $100 billion a year mark.
As for Google Home, even strong sales in 2017 won’t make a big impact on their revenues, but it will give them a solid presence in the voice-based consumer electronics market.
And who knows, Google may well introduce voice advertising in future to monetize their voice search channel, with users coming in from Google Assistant on Google Home, Google Pixel smartphones and future devices.