Smart speaker shipments slowed in the US during the second quarter (Q221), with year-on-year (YoY) of just 16%, while quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) shipments declined by 27%, according to the latest Smart Speakers Market Tracker report from Omdia. Apple’s U.S. HomePod smart speaker sales increased by triple digits each quarter since Q420.
Most of the slowdown can be attributed to the Amazon Alexa platform (including own branded and 3rd party branded speakers), which saw a decline of 31% QoQ for smart speaker shipments in the US. In fact, Google’s smart speakers claimed the number one spot, beating out Amazon during the quarter by about 800,000 shipments.
Despite a slow quarter for Amazon, the first half of 2021 (1H21) still belongs to the Alexa platform, which was estimated to have a share 42%, giving the brand a slight advantage over Google (37% share) and Apple (21% share).
Apple continues to grow by triple digits
Since 4Q20, Apple’s smart speakers have increased by triple digits each quarter in the US, and 2Q21 was no different. Omdia estimated the HomePod and HomePod Mini both outsold all other models of smart speakers in the US during 2Q21. The Google Mini was ranked third overall, with about 777,000 shipments, followed by the Echo Dot 3rd Generation with 730,000 shipments in the US.
Apple’s smart speakers have continued to grow at historic rates. In fact, Apple’s market share of US smart speakers has increased from 9.6% in 1H20 to 21% in 1H21, a YoY shipment increase of about 245%. The discontinuation of the original HomePod may have contributed to the spike in growth, as Apple enthusiasts rushed to buy the remaining stock.
Nonetheless, as the new smart home application layer, Matter, takes shape, Apple will likely benefit the most of the three major US brands, which includes Apple, Google and Amazon. However, to maintain the momentum, Apple will need to release another speaker: a portable speaker or speaker with a display, for example, could push Apple to new levels.
Smart speakers with a display slow in 2021
In the US, shipments of smart speakers with a display were down 48% QoQ and down 1.9% YoY (2Q21 relative to 2Q20). Yet, 1H21 relative to 1H20, smart speaker shipments with a display have increased by about 67%.
As such, this slowdown could be a market correction for the strong growth of speakers with a display that happened during the pandemic, rather than a broader indication of declining interest from consumers. Nonetheless, Omdia expects that smart speakers with displays will continue to rise, especially as new models come to market that have unique features, like the Google Nest Hub (2nd Generation).
Slowdown is inevitable
The smart speaker market has been consistently growing over the past several years, but a slowdown is inevitable, especially as household penetration nears 60% in the US. However, brands have been especially innovative in this category, bringing new designs to market with product refreshes that add value.
Nevertheless, Omdia believe that we will continue to see an increase in the number of homes adding to, or replacing, existing smart speakers, meaning the penetration of households could start to diminish post-2025.
MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s 180% year-over-year growth in the U.S. smart speaker market shows that the category is very price-sensitive. Obviously, the $99 HomePod mini was better late than never!
Imagine if Apple had released HomePod mini alongside HomePod back in February 2018. — MacDailyNews, November 13, 2020
I read another article suggesting to maintain this momentum, Apple should consider introducing a new model. I suggest reintroducing Apple Airport with mesh networking built into the HomePod. This could complement Apple’s security and privacy initiatives and still provide all of the features HomePod already provides.
And Apple should introduce a large floor-standing system with earth-shattering sound at a premium price – put me down for a stereo pair!
A slippery slope is what Apple has hit. No matter what Apple does, it just keeps sliding backwards in value. It must be a bit frustrating for Tim Cook.