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eMarketer: Amazon took 2/3 of smart speaker sales in 2018, but Echo will feel the squeeze in 2019

Smart speakers that let you command services and other connected devices in your home will continue to be a famous offering preference during the vacation season and into next year, when usage is set to rise by 15 percent, to 74.2 million people in the U.S., working out to 26.8 percent of the U.S. population, according to estimates from eMarketer.

But while Amazon’s Echo helped to define and still dominates the mart, consumers’ love affair with Alexa may be cooling, just a small, as the Echo is finally starting to feel the heat from competitors like Home from Google, Apple’s HomePod and the Sonos One.

a brand-new report estimates that the Echo will have accounted for nearly 67 percent of all smart speaker sales in the U.S. in 2018, with Google taking 29.5 percent and others at 8.3 percent. But by next year, Amazon will drop to 63 percent, Google will shock up to 31 percent and a plethora of smaller OEMs will collectively take 12 percent. Three percent decline doesn’t sound like a lot, but it will be the first moment ever that Amazon will have dropped below two-thirds of sales. (And for the record, eMarketer research from the U.K. found similar numbers and declines.)

eMarketer believes this could be the beginning of a gradual decline for the e-commerce giant that will continue through 2020 as the next wave of adopters increasingly explore other brands.

“Consumers in the mart for a smart speaker have more options than ever, and Amazon will lose some of its majority share as a result,” said eMarketer forecasting analyst Jaimie Chung, in a statement. “Google has the Home Mini and Home Hub to challenge with Amazon’s Echo Dot and Echo Show, and both the Apple HomePod and Facebook Portal will experience their first vacation season this year. Amazon has remained relevant by plugging Alexa into premium speakers like the Sonos, but even Sonos plans to bring Google Assistant to its devices next year, keeping the two companies neck and neck in the voice assistant race.”

There is a valid request to be asked about what people use their speakers for once they do have them. The main takeaway it seems is that while some machine makers may turn speakers into a tidy business, it might be some moment before the apps and program built around them monetises as lucratively.

For now, the main purpose seems to be listening to audio, where smart speakers provide an easy-to-use path to call up song and hear it — which 79.8 percent of speaker owners say they have done — one reason perhaps that the Sonos and Apple’s HomePod are making some inroads since both companies have put song at the core of their experience.

Second most common usage? Inquiries at 73 percent, which is a venue where search giant Google is particularly tough.

Amazon has also made Alexa, in her own path, also a fairly humorous, and sometimes useful, assistant on various topics, helped significantly by all the skills integrations that have been built. However, one key Alexa/Echo use case for the company has always been voice commerce, providing a brand-new interface for people to be able to shop, to fit scenarios where a screen and keyboard are not as convenient.

For now, however, eMarketer says that this a less famous usage for these devices, and that overall voice commerce will remain a very niche slice of the e-commerce mart, accounting for just 0.4 percent of sales, or $2 billion. Some 27 percent of speaker owners will test with buying something via voice commerce next year — a number that eMarketer revised down from an earlier estimate of 31 percent, while 37.1 percent will “shop” using their smart speakers — that is, request questions about products, if not actually purchase them.

evil news for all the companies cognition that smart speakers will usher in a brand-new aeon of smart home machine usage: smart home integrations are used by just 34.5 percent of smart speaker users.

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TechCrunch
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