Alexa’s stellar holiday season bodes well for smart speakers, connected technology

Customers used Alexa to order gifts 3x more than last year and bought ‘millions more Amazon devices’ than they did in 2017.

Amazon customers used Alexa — and ordered voice-enabled devices — more than ever before this holiday season, signaling that the age of voice tech has truly arrived.

The company announced Thursday that customers used Alexa to order gifts three times more than last year. It also reported that shoppers bought “millions more Amazon devices” than they did in 2017.

“This season was our best yet, and we look forward to continuing to bring our customers what they want, in ways most convenient for them in 2019,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer.

Why you should care

Marketers will want to note Alexa’s peformance this season as a positive arbiter of things to come for voice, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT) this year. Steep rises in the purchase of voice devices, as well as smart home devices like the Amazon-owned Ring and Blink, point to a consumer base that is increasingly adopting voice technologies and the concept of a connected, smart home.

But popularity can come with a price, as many consumers saw in Europe over Christmas Day when a surge in voice requests undoubtedly caused by consumers plugging in newly acquired smart speakers, caused Alexa to crash. The voice service also experienced a widespread outage in Europe in September.

In November, Amazon edged out Google to take the lead as the top global smart speaker vendor. Global smart speaker shipments grew 137 percent year over year in the third quarter of 2018, up from less than half that figure (8.3 million) a year ago.

More about the news

  • Alexa set more than one hundred million timers during the 2018 holiday season and delivered 8 times as many reminders over last year.
  • Customers asked Alexa to turn on their holiday lights tens of millions of times this holiday season, with the number one request being, “Alexa, turn on the Christmas tree.”


About The Author

Robin Kurzer started her career as a daily newspaper reporter in Milford, Connecticut. She then made her mark on the advertising and marketing world in Chicago at agencies such as Tribal DDB and Razorfish, creating award-winning work for many major brands. For the past seven years, she’s worked as a freelance writer and communications professional across a variety of business sectors.

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