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Consumers Embrace the Intelligence of Things


Today’s consumer technology industry has brought a new meaning to the acronym IoT. Once known as the “Internet of Things,” devices that are part of the “Intelligence of Things” are becoming just as popular. We know this from the innovations seen at CES, where entrepreneurs combined connectivity and data with artificial intelligence to elevate consumer experiences and offer new levels of functionality.

New CTA research provides evidence of this paradigm sift by examining tech ownership and purchase intent data among U.S. households. The findings demonstrate consumers want the benefits of data, sensors, AI and other advanced technologies through the products they own and are looking to buy over the next year.

Breaking it Down

CTA’s 21st Annual Consumer Technology Ownership and Market Potential study found household ownership of smart speakers nearly doubled over the past year, jumping to 31% from 16% in 2018. Underscoring consumers’ embrace of voice-activated digital assistants, the growth in smart speaker ownership was the largest gain in household ownership across the nearly 60 products surveyed.

The analysis also shows how three screens (TVs, smartphones and laptop PCs) dominate tech ownership and anchor consumer technology experiences. TVs narrowly remain the most commonly owned consumer tech product, with 95% of households owning at least one. Some 91% of households own a smartphone followed by laptops at 75%.

Tablets, meanwhile, are owned by nearly two-thirds (65%) of U.S. households, likely near the peak for these devices. CTA’s forecast data shows tablet shipments peaked in 2014 at 71 million units after a meteoric rise from their introduction in 2011. However, the percentage of first-time buyers has decelerated rapidly in recent years.

The Big Advances

Smart home devices will likely see the largest gains in household adoption in the next year. First-time purchasers make up the largest proportion of prospective buyers, led by households planning to buy smart door locks, smart doorbells and smart home hubs for the first time. The correlation between soaring ownership of smart speakers wit voice-activated digital assistants and budding purchase intent for smart home products cannot be ignored.

Personal audio is another category with a lot of enthusiasm among consumers — particularly for wireless solutions. Already, nearly half (48%) of U.S. households own either a pair of wireless headphones or earbuds. But more interesting, one third (33%) of household’s plan to buy at least one of these solutions in the next year. CTA forecasts combined annual shipments of wireless headphones and earbuds will grow 31% in 2019 to more than 26 million units.

For wearables, smartwatch adoption grew by five percentage points to reach 23% household ownership in 2019, narrowing the gap with fitness trackers, which grew four percentage points and are now owned by 29% of U.S. households. We can expect adoption to continue to rise as first-time buyers make up the majority of households planning to make a purchase over the next 12 months.

Overall, the study reveals how innovation is spurring demand for emerging technologies and driving consumers to upgrade existing devices.

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