- Shoppers' use of the Alexa voice assistant more than tripled during the 2018 holiday season from a year earlier, according to an Amazon announcement.
- While the company didn't provide exact sales numbers, the e-commerce giant said holiday sales broke records and that tens of millions of people worldwide signed up for Prime free trials or began paid memberships.
- The most popular Alexa-compatible devices sold on Amazon were the Amazon Smart Plug, Ring Video Doorbell 2, TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug Mini Outlet and the iRobot Roomba 690. Amazon Alexa was the most popular app in Apple's App Store on Dec. 26, suggesting that many devices were activated on Christmas Day, per CNBC.
Amazon's announcement of its holiday results has plenty of superlatives to describe blowout sales, but scant details of actual results. The company won't report its quarterly results that include the holiday shopping season until next month. Amazon had forecast an operating income of $2.1 billion to $3.6 billion for Q4 2018, missing Wall Street analyst estimates of $3.9 billion and disappointing investors, CNBC reported.
While Alexa-powered shopping tripled during the holiday season, it likely represents a small amount of commerce for Amazon. Overall voice-enabled shopping totaled $2.1 billion, or just 0.4% of U.S. e-commerce sales, last year, eMarketer estimated. Still, it's good news for the company, as voice shopping through its Alexa app and Echo devices represents a major area of growth as voice tech usage becomes mainstream among consumers.
The popularity of the Amazon Alexa app in the App Store is one indication that the company's voice-activated devices sold well during the holidays. The company's share of the smart speaker market is expected to drop to 63% this year from 67% in 2018 amid growing competition from Google and other companies, per eMarketer.
Amazon's announcement also names the WiFi-only version of Apple's standard iPad as among the top-selling electronics items. Previously, Amazon didn't mention Apple devices, and instead touted its own its line of Fire tablets or Kindle e-readers. The mention of an Apple device is another sign that the companies currently have a warmer relationship than in the past. Amazon in November started selling more Apple products directly and got access to its latest devices.