Amazon, which already holds a dominant position in the US smart speaker market, will continue to dominate U.S. smart speaker market share through 2021, with approximately 70% of total US smart speaker users expected to use an Amazon Echo device, according to eMarketer’s latest estimates.
This year, 69.7% of US smart speaker users will use an Echo, down slightly from 72.9% last year. By comparison, 31.7% of smart speaker users will turn to Google-branded devices, and 18.4% will use other smart speaker brands, including the Apple HomePod, Harmon Kardon Invoke and Sonos One. These percentages add up to more than 100% because some smart speaker users use more than one brand of speaker.
Though Amazon wasn’t first-to-market with a voice assistant, it had first-mover advantage in smart speakers with its US introduction of the Echo and built-in voice assistant Alexa in late 2014. Since then, it has consistently released new features that make the speaker easier and more intuitive to use. It has also opened Alexa to outside development and fostered its compatibility with thousands of Amazon-branded and third-party smart-home devices. The Echo is, however, slightly less competitive in some countries because it supports fewer non-English languages than its major competitors.
MacDailyNews Take: Hopefully, despite Apple’s late start, HomePod can climb out of the “other” category sooner than later. We’d love to see a estimate of U.S. smart speaker revenue share where we suspect HomePod is doing significantly better than in unit share, especially when lumped in with $49 or less units (Amazon’s Echo Dot currently is going for $29).
MacDailyNews Note: As of summer 2019, Amazon’s Alexa supports seven overall languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazilian), and Spanish. Google’s Home currently supports thirteen overall languages: Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish, and Swedish. Apple’s Siri voice assistant supports 21 languages: Arabic, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish.
The comments in the AI article are interesting and insightful.
A recurring theme is confusion about what Apple is trying to do. Is it a Homekit hub that sucks at audio commands, or a Speaker that doesn’t allow you to access all the music you own with the legacy audio equipment that you already own and enjoy? Almost univerally everyone agrees that Siri sucks, and it sucks worse on Homepod as compared to iOS devices.
In the 12th comment, user Fluffhead said: “If Apple wants to stay in this market they have a very long way to go not only in price but also performance. If Siri still sucks then what is the point of introducing a HomePod mini?”
That indeed is a very good question.
I recommend that Apple should stop creating hardware with the intention of herding sheep towards a subscription service. Miniaturizing the Homepod will do nothing to change the fact that it’s just another Apple Music interface, offering only a tiny fraction of the functions of your iOS device. Homepod is not a seamless speaker and it isn’t great in most system setups.
Apple should return to its roots of making great, affordable, easy to use non-disposable hardware and software that just works, and solves obvious problems that many people still have after all these years. Apple doesn’t have to put all this into one super duper Swiss Army knife product. People would simply like discrete well-engineered solutions that Apple used to offer:
1) most people want a stable, fast, secure home WiFi network (Airport … remember Airport?)
2) most people want a secure file archive (NAS, Time Capsule) that just works — and preferably one that is seamless to add to their existing network & peripherals locally, with no rental fee for someone else’s cloud. Apple is MIA in this market.
3) more and more people are experimenting with smart home stuff and it’s a mess. HomeKit remains a largely underperforming marketing term at this point, partially because Apple doesn’t explain what that is. Apple offers no guidance as to what to do. Some people think Apple TV or HomePod is supposed to represent a physical HomeKit hub for your home. Other people see no need for a physical hub. The best answer, as far as I can see, is that the best smart homes do have a real hub — to this date, that happens to be the Mac or PC, actually. iOS and all its derivative gadgets cannot pull it all together or store anything (like security video, for example). It doesn’t help that all the Big Brother corporations now want to sell you expensive IoT gadgets that require info gathering 24/7, often with a subscription on top of that. That’s ludicrous, and Apple doesn’t seem to have established a helpful guide for would-be users of IoT stuff.
4) some folks would like a gaming console with vastly more power than iOS to run hyper-realistic games in virtual reality environments using realistic real-world and whole-body inputs. Apple has inexplicably lagged that market for decades, perhaps that’s never going to happen. Funny but the same virtual graphics technology is also hugely desired in all kinds of scientific and technical fields but Apple abandoned science & tech industries eons ago.
5) some folks would like to have better audio or video systems, or at least better ability to use their iOS and Mac devices to connect to the many different excellent televisions and HiFi setups they already own. Apple to this date has offered only overpriced white plastic adapters ($50+) and $150+ Apple TVs. If Apple isn’t going to provide local storage, then hopefully the settop box will disappear — your existing Mac or iOS device + Airplay should be able to completely replace anything AppleTV boxes promise (assuming you have perfect WiFi in your home). Unfortunately Apple home audio hardware is, and always has been, a joke intentionally crippled by Apple’s desire to control the access/sale/rental to the files that get played on the audio device.
6) A small number of people want a homespy kitchen counter talking can so that Alexa can order them food and Prime junk from China. Why Apple or any intelligent consumer would ever enter that market is beyond me. Way too much blind trust in SillyCon Valley billionaires.
Having a device in my house that is listening to everything I say is not going to happen.
I know Siri is probably listening somehow but given how crap she is at understanding anything I say I not that worried. Doesn’t even understand when I call her a silly cow.
Thanks for taking the time to carefully organise and express these thoughts. Worth reading.
Not kidding I would have bought a home pod if Apple didn’t cripple it by taking out the line in. I would then have hooked up an Echo Dot.
Amazon+echo. $29 on sale. Homepod will never beat them ever.
Junk Chinese phones for $29 on sale. iPhone will never beat them ever… oh, wait…