- Amazon's share of the smart speaker market is expected to drop to 63% next year from 67% in 2018 as the e-commerce giant faces more competition from Google and a greater threat from other companies, researcher eMarketer forecasts. Google's market share is set to inch upward to 31% next year from 30% in 2017, while the share for remaining smart speaker makers will advance to 12% from 8.3%.
- Apple's HomePod and Facebook's Portal are in their first holiday season, a key period for buying electronics. They're among the smart speaker makers seeking to grab a slice of a quickly growing market. The number of U.S. adults who use the devices will grow 15% next year to 74.2 million, eMarketer forecasts, while more than one quarter (27%) of them will use a smart speaker at least once per month.
- The researcher slightly cut its forecast for voice-enabled shopping next year. It estimated that 27% of smart speaker owners will use the devices to shop next year, down from an earlier projection of 31%. Voice-enabled shopping is predicted to hit $2.1 billion, or just 0.4% of U.S. e-commerce sales, this year, per eMarketer.
Amazon and Google are demonstrating the importance of being first-movers in a growing product category as other consumer electronics companies aim to catch up. Even as Apple (and to a lesser extent, Sonos) makes gains in the market, it appears unlikely that it will unseat the top two players, with Amazon's share still above 60%.
Smart speaker makers are still developing their revenue models, starting with an initial sale and possibly followed by advertising, in-app sales, subscriptions and voice commerce. Voice commerce is still quite limited and may require lower-cost smart displays to gain traction, eMarketer principal analyst Victoria Petrock said in the report.
Amazon Echo devices, which are powered by the Alexa voice assistant, provide a gateway to the e-commerce giant’s shopping platform and can connect to more than 20,000 smart home devices, The Washington Post reported. Alexa's weakest point, however, is a lack of seamless connectivity with smartphones, requiring users to download a separate app. Still, that hasn't been enough to knock Amazon from the top spot.
Google Home devices, which are powered by the Google Assistant, get high marks for finding information, in line with the search giant's specialty of indexing web content. Apple's HomePod, whose release was delayed last year, is higher priced and emphasizes its integration with Apple Music and the Siri voice assistant. Facebook released the Portal smart display earlier this year, but the company's relentless privacy scandals may make shoppers wary of bringing home a camera and listening device connected to the social platform.