The number of U.S. households with voice-activated wireless speakers such as Amazon.com 's ( AMZN ) Echo devices has more than tripled in a year's time, a market research firm said Thursday.
Today, 10% of U.S. homes with internet service have such smart speakers, compared with 3% a year ago, NPD Group said. With internet-connected smart speakers, users can stream music with voice commands and get audio responses to spoken questions about the weather, traffic, sports and more.
"Voice-enabled speakers have also played a key role in catalyzing interest in the smart home," NPD analyst Ben Arnold said in a news release .
Some 15% of U.S. internet households now own a home automation device, up from 10% in April 2016. Security and monitoring systems hold the largest share of dollar sales in the segment. But other categories are growing more rapidly such as smart lighting and video doorbells, NPD said.
Sales of home automation products in the U.S. are up 43% year to date, vs. the same period last year, NPD said.
"The voice-enabled speaker market is expanding quickly, with a number of high-profile products expected to hit shelves in (the fourth quarter of) 2017, and into 2018," Arnold said. "As sales of these devices continue to grow, and more voice-enabled applications are developed, the use case for intelligent voice speakers, particularly as it relates to home automation devices, will continue to expand."
On Wednesday, Alphabet ( GOOGL )-owned Google introduced two new speakers with its Google Assistant voice response technology.
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The compact Google Home Mini costs $49, making it cheap enough for consumers to considering buying multiple units to use in different rooms. The Mini will be available in stores starting Oct. 19.
The Google Home Max is designed as a premium music speaker with artificial intelligence. The Max costs $399 and comes with 12 months of ad-free YouTube Music service for a limited time. It will be available for pre-order starting Nov. 13.
Google Home Max is seen as a competitor to Apple 's ( AAPL ) HomePod smart speaker with Siri voice response technology. Apple says its $349 HomePod will be available in December.
Google also will continue to sell the midrange Google Home smart speaker for $129.
Amazon kick-started the market for smart speakers and has sold an estimated 15 million Echo devices in the U.S. alone, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners said. Amazon's Echo devices have 76% of the U.S. market for smart speakers, followed by Google with 24%, CIRP said.
On Sept. 27, Amazon introduced a new, lower-priced version of its AI-enabled Echo speaker. The new Echo is priced at $99.99, which is nearly 60% less than the original version. It is available for pre-order and is scheduled to start shipping later this month.
Other Echo products in its lineup include the compact Echo Dot for $49.99 and the premium Echo Plus with built-in smart-home hub for $149.99.
Other companies with smart speakers on the market or coming soon include Samsung, Sonos and Sony ( SNE ).
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