Why Alexa Still Has a Long Way to Go

Despite all the fanfare surrounding voice assistants like Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant, they just don't seem to be catching on much with consumers, according to recent research.

Credit: George W. Bailey/Shutterstock.com

(Image credit: George W. Bailey/Shutterstock.com)

So far, Alexa app store activity suggests that its users mostly appreciate being read to, with news apps, entertainment and access to podcasts being the most popular, according to a report from VoiceLabs. But like smartphone users who install new apps on their phones and end up using them once if at all, 97 percent of voice assistant users stop using voice apps within two weeks, VoiceLabs reports.

MORE: The 42 Best Amazon Alexa Skills

While their makers market the devices as a hub for controlling the smart home, less than a third of Amazon Echo and Google Home users list the capability as a reason why they like their device, VoiceLabs found.

Credit: VoiceLabs

(Image credit: VoiceLabs)

Chances are, those who own these smart home devices still aren't aware of all of their capabilities — Alexa has a whopping 7,000 skills, for example. With 6.5 million so-called "voice first" devices sold in 2016 vs. 1.7 million sold in the prior year, VoiceLabs expects the devices to get more popular in 2017. But how much buyers will actually use them is another story.

Althea Chang is Associate Director of Content Development for Consumer Reports and was previously a Senior Writer for Tom's Guide, covering mobile devices, health and fitness gadgets and car tech.