Steve Rabuchin, the VP of Amazon Alexa, has a vision. He dreams of customers having a conversation – not just with voice-enabled devices like the Amazon Echo, but with appliances, cars, and everything in between.
Though that dream may not be realized in the short term, sales of smart speakers are increasing as people warm up to the idea of using voice-assisted devices in their homes.
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Today’s infographic, from Raconteur, sheds light on the fight for smart speaker market share, how early adopters are using the devices, and the growing array of voice-enabled devices currently on the market.
Moving into the Mainstream
When the Amazon Echo entered the market in 2015, it kicked off a new wave of demand for voice-activated smart speakers. At the time, it was unclear whether a large segment of the population would use a smart speaker, but consecutive years of rising sales are putting those worries to rest.
A recent study from Juniper Research found that smart speakers such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, and the Sonos One will be installed in over 70 million U.S. households by 2022, reaching 55% of all homes.
The recent flurry of holiday device buying seems to support this prediction. Smart speaker sales in the U.S. rose sharply to nearly 25 million in 2017, with close to 11 million purchased during the holiday season. Thanks to lower price points and wider distribution, this trend will likely continue through 2018 and beyond.
Competition is Heating Up
Amazon’s first-mover advantage resulted in an imposing 94% market share by Q3 2016 – but since then, Google Home has been eating into that lead. Experts predict that Echo will remain the top smart speaker in the future, but that Google and Chinese brands like JD and Xiaomi will continue to grow in popularity.
Perhaps anticipating a binary market, Sonos is looking to win by taking a slightly different approach. Since the company is doesn’t have an existing suite of consumer services, it’s shipping devices with Alexa integration and opening up the platform to developers (think voice-activated apps). Customers who are suspicious of ulterior motives and integration limitations of the larger brands may gravitate toward a more open, agnostic approach.
You have no idea what people are going to build. When Apple opened iOS, the first thing people made was the fart app.
– Antoine Leblond, VP of Software Development at Sonos
To add even more excitement to the race for market share dominance, Apple is launching a smart speaker called HomePod in early 2018.
The Path to IoT is Voice Enabled
For now, smart speakers are primarily a fancy way to people to stream music or get tomorrow’s weather forecast, but they are a critical first step in the impending shift toward the “connected home”.
Most people don’t currently live in a place that supports full-on integration with smart speakers, but once they begin using voice-enabled devices, they are more likely to take smaller steps such as rewiring light switches.
The shift towards smart homes is predicted to generate a lot of revenue in coming years – and companies like Amazon and Google see smart speakers as a foot-in-the-door. If trends continue, these tech giants stand a good chance of taking over as the nerve center for peoples’ homes as an IoT-driven future unfolds.
33 years after the debut of The Clapper, tech companies have found a better (and far more profitable) hands-free way to turn the lights out.
Article by Nick Routley, Visual Capitalist