It used to be that having a conversation with artificial intelligences was reserved for science fiction. These days, with the rise of voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google’s Assistant, it’s becoming increasingly commonplace. Where voice assistants were once limited to cell phones (Apple first introduced Siri on iPhones in 2011), they’re frequently found in stand-alone speakers across households. A recent study from Adobe estimates that 32% of US households own at least one smart speaker. That’s not surprising given the efforts made by the voice activated companies listed above – sometimes selling smart speakers below cost in an effort to bring consumers onto their platform (thereby collecting valuable consumer data which can be used to generate ad revenue). As consumers continue to adopt smart speakers, the voice assistants they rely on can shape future purchases.
Alexa Looms Large
The three dominant voice assistants today belong to Amazon, Google, and Apple, but there are other options, such as Microsoft’s Cortana or Samsung’s Bixby. According to TraQline’s most recent data (ending June 2018), Amazon is dominating the mix of smart speaker sales, making up approximately 54% of all units sold. Its next closest competitor is Google, whose smart speakers make up almost 23% of the market. Apple, who had one of the first smart assistants with Siri on the iPhone, entered the smart speaker game a bit later than its competitors, and currently makes up only about 3% of the market. But in an attempt to have consumers utilize their own platforms (and collect their data), Amazon, Google, and Apple have begun to license their smart assistants to other speaker brands for inclusion on their hardware. For example, Sonos (2% of the smart speaker market) and Bose (3% of the smart speaker market) come with Alexa baked in, while JBL and Lenovo branded speakers rely on Google Assistant. Additionally, Samsung, which is better known for its abundance of smart appliances (21% of their major appliances were “smart” appliances in the R4Q end June 2018), has announced its own smart speaker using its voice assistant, Bixby. No official release date for the speaker has been set yet.
Commanding the Kitchens (among other things)
The benefits for the consumer go beyond just conveniently streaming music or serving as a timer. Dedicated smart speakers can act as central hubs as consumers piece together their own smart homes. Major Appliance manufacturers have already begun working with smart assistant creators to develop spoken controls to their smart appliances. In the 4 quarters ending June 2018, 11% of major appliances sold were “smart” appliances. While some manufacturers work with both Amazon & Google, it’s not uncommon for specific appliances to only work with one assistant or the other. In fact, that seems to be Amazon’s plan going forward, especially as it introduces its own “Amazon Basics” branded versions of products like plug adapters and microwaves. If a homeowner is already investing in a specific smart assistant system, it stands to reason that this could lock them into specific manufacturers as they continue to build out their smart home.
As voice assistants battle for dominance and manufacturers embrace the automation that smart assistants make available, TraQline will continue to build out a holistic coverage of the smart home market. The number of appliances, security features, lights, and other products that are able to be controlled by smart phones and voice assistants is growing every day, and consumers’ choices are influencing what will be available in the future, much as their choices determined the “winners” for phone operating systems. Have you seen increased interest in smart products in your industry? Get in touch with the @TraQline team to discuss what you’ve seen, we’d love to hear from you!