Smart speakers are voice-activated digital assistants that enable users to use their voice to command a wide variety of activities, such as play music, listen to news, make calls, watch video clips, shop online, and control smart home devices (thermostats, home alarm systems, lights, smart TVs, etc.).

Amazon Alexa is the digital assistant software that empowers Amazon’s smart speaker series, the Amazon Echo. As Microsoft’s Windows 10 is the software (operating system) that empowers the PC, Amazon Alexa is the software (operating system) that empowers Amazon Echo smart speakers. The first-generation Echo was released in the United States on June 23, 2015 and since then sales have increased steadily and are expected to soar in coming years. Most than just a digital assistant, Amazon Alexa is evolving into software that empowers and proliferates the Internet of Things. In addition:

1) Amazon Alexa has 82% of the smart speaker market share.

As the pioneer of smart speaker technology, Amazon Alexa and the Amazon Echo have dominated the smart speaker market. On November 4, 2016, Google released their smart speaker, the Google Home (empowered by Google’s digital assistant software known as Google Assistant. Since then, Google Home has earned 18% of the smart speaker market share. And this December, Apple is releasing a smart speaker, the Apple HomePod (empowered by Apple’s digital assistant software, Siri). Most important, voice-enabled smart speakers are expected to reach 55% of U.S. households by 2022.

2) There are over 20,000 Skills in the Amazon Skills Store.

As mobile apps add functionality to smartphones and tablets, Amazon Skills add functionality to Amazon Echo smart speakers. Brands are flocking to build their own Skills using the Alexa Skills Kit or hiring developers to do it for them. Currently, there are over 20,000 Skills available for download in the Amazon Skills Store:

3) Early adopter nonprofits are developing Amazon Skills.

The Audubon Society has released an Amazon Skill to teach bird calls. The NRDC has released an Amazon Skill to combat food waste. And the Mayo Clinic has released an Amazon Skill to provide first aid assistance. Get ready! The era of nonprofits embracing the Internet of Things has begun.

4) Smart speakers are giving rise to v-commerce.

Voice-commerce is on the rise. According to the recently released Smart Audio Report from NPR, 57% of smart speaker owners have bought something with their voice. It’s just a matter of time until v-commerce leads to v-fundraising i.e. voice-fundraising. April 2, 2018 UPDATE: Alexa Users Can Now Donate to Charity Using Their Voice

2017 Global Trends in Giving Report

Based upon the survey results of 4,084 donors worldwide, the 2017 Global Trends in Giving Report explores the impact of gender, generation, and ideology upon giving and volunteerism.