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Time To Talk: Smart Speakers Challenge PC, Smartphone, TV as Home Control Platform

by David Mercer | Dec 15, 2017

Cards on the table: I am not a fan of talking to machines. Over the years I’ve tried to get comfortable with speaking to computers. Sometimes, like IVR (interactive voice response) phone menus, there is no choice, and to be fair many systems work pretty well these days. But the fear of the “please repeat” loop never really goes away. If you can’t understand what I’m saying, first time round, you are wasting my time.

As a linguistics graduate of the late 1980s I recall being assured that human language was so complex that machines would never be able to deal with it. But technology moves on and there is no doubt we are crossing the threshold of mass market acceptance. There is no better evidence of this than the explosive growth in demand for smart speakers such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. As we reported recently, global sales will reach 24 million units this year, a growth rate of more than 300%.

Amazon and Google currently dominate the market with a combined 92% market share, but they are being joined by a variety of new entrants, from telcos such as Orange and SK Telecom to major technology brands like Sonos, Panasonic and Sony. We even see consumer goods brands like Nestle offering their own brand smart speakers in China, targeting customers with recipe and diet recommendations.

smart speaker shares 1217

Like all nascent categories, we are sure to see rapid evolution in capabilities, applications and design form factors. One thing seems clear: smart speakers are challenging other connected platforms such as PCs, TVs and smartphones for a central role in the intelligent home.

For these and other reasons we have developed a new Smart Speakers research service to track market evolution and competitor activity in this exciting new space. We look forward to supporting clients with the industry’s most comprehensive research coverage of the smart speaker market as it develops over the coming months and years.

David Mercer

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