2018 is defining year for smart speaker adoption
Canalys reported the global smart speaker market is poised to grow to 56.3 million shipments in 2018. The leaders in this market includes Amazon and Google with their Echo and Home products respectively, however they are expected to see rise in competition from new vendors who have started entering the race. US is market driver and single most important market for smart speakers in 2018, as shipments are expected to reach 38.4 million units, with China a distant second at 4.4 million units, as per Canalys.
“2018 will be the defining year for smart speaker adoption,” said Canalys Research Analyst Lucio Chen. “Smart speaker uptake has grown faster than any other consumer technology we’ve recently encountered, such as AR, VR or even wearables. While 2017 has been a banner year for smart speakers in terms of hardware sales, especially for Google and Amazon, smart speakers in 2018 will move beyond hardware, with strategic attempts to monetize the growing installed base in the US and beyond. The possibilities to do this are endless, be it discreet advertising, content subscription bundles, premium services or enterprise solutions. The technology is still in transition, and increased investments from multiple players of the ecosystem will fuel growth.”
US to remain the largest market through 2020, based on Canalys forecasts. High broadband penetration, a keen proclivity to adopt new technologies and the lowering price barriers of smart speakers has accelerated adoption in the US market. “Consumer acceptance of the smart speaker has been positive overall, despite a few shortcomings,” said Canalys Analyst Vincent Thielke. “Vendors have begun offering successful upgrades to their latest models, and a key element driving this stickiness are the smart home partnerships. Alexa’s multiple smart home integrations, Google’s partnership with Nest and Apple’s HomeKit initiatives will continue to excite consumers of the smart speaker and fuel sales in 2018.”
China is also seeing increased activity with local vendors, such as Alibaba, JD.com and Xiaomi, have already launched smart speakers to test the waters. The market will see a huge boost in 2018 as hardware vendors, software developers, voice recognition providers and operators join the game just in time to capitalize on the growing consumer awareness of smart home and artificial intelligence, according to Canalys.
“Market dynamics in China can change very quickly,” said Lucio Chen. "Traditional hardware vendors have been cautious at the beginning, but with deep-pocketed Alibaba ramping up investment in the category, and Xiaomi launching lower priced skews of its XiaoAI smart speaker, the market will be ignited in no time."