- Apple's virtual assistant Siri lost 15% of its monthly U.S. users — 7.3 million people — in the year-long period ending in May, according to data from app measurement company Verto Analytics. Phone-based assistants are slowly falling in popularity, except when used for navigation and map apps, the company found.
- Siri still has 41.4 million monthly users in the U.S., making it more popular than Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana and other highly talked-about assistants. Much of Siri's popularity is driven by the widespread adoption of iPhone, iPad and Mac computers that have the voice feature automatically installed.
- Meanwhile, Amazon's Alexa soared fourfold to 2.6 million users at the end of the May from 800,000 a year earlier. Alexa users are also interacting with the service more often now than they did last year, with a "stickiness index" that doubled to 22% from 10%, according to Verto.
Voice-activated digital assistants still haven't quite lived up to the expectations of being a user-friendly interface, but growing competition among the devices may spur a greater drive toward innovations that are more meaningful to smartphone and speaker users. The iPhone is still the most common way that people use the technology by asking Siri to answer questions or handle tasks. About 44% of smartphones had a personal assistant app that was used at least once in May 2017, when Verto conducted its survey. However, the average user spends just 12 minutes a month on these types of apps, the study found.
Still, virtual assistants attract some "super users" that adopt the technology early and spend twice the time using the apps as the average consumer. Women ages 52 and up spend an average of 1.5 hours a month with a digital assistant, Verto said, which is a demographic group that isn't traditionally associated with early adoption of technology.
While Apple was one of the first to market with its digital assistant Siri, it didn't yet recognize the potential for an in-home device. The company's planned rollout of the HomePod for the holiday season further solidifies that smart speakers are quickly becoming an important part of the connected device landscape.
Verto also found that Amazon Alexa is exploding in popularity, echoing a previous forecast from research firm eMarketer. The number of Americans who use a voice-activated assistant device like Amazon Echo or Google Home at least once a month will more than double this year to 35.6 million, eMarketer said in a May report. The market leader is forecast to be Amazon with 71% of users while Google will have 24%.
Smart speakers are expected to become a key channel for marketers to interact with consumers, many of whom say the devices have changed their daily habits. Seventy percent of households with a smart speaker say they now listen to more audio at home than previously. People are also getting more attached to the devices, with 65% saying they wouldn't go back to living without one, and 42% saying the device is "essential" to their everyday lives, according to a study by Edison Research.