The smart speaker market took a giant step towards mainstream acceptance in Q4 2017 as aggressive discounting tactics and a wider choice of models, price points and country availability resulted in millions of first time buyers, reports Strategy Analytics.
Full year shipments hit 32 million units, up over 300 per cent year-on-year, with Google and Amazon accounting for nine out of every ten smart speakers sold. Google increased its market share to over 35 per cent in the final quarter while Amazon’s share fell to just over half.
David Watkins, Director of the new Smart Speaker service at Strategy Analytics commented that “Amazon and Google are in a battle to expand the number of users for their respective voice assistants as fast as they can and it is this laser-focused approach that is leaving little room for others. Brands such as Sonos, Harman Kardon and Sony hope that their expertise in design and audio quality will persuade consumers to dig a little deeper in their pockets while Apple will look to leverage its fast growing base of Apple Music subscribers to build early momentum for its HomePod speaker. This year will also bring the launch of operator based smart speakers from the likes of Orange and Telefonica as they seek a more perceptible presence in consumers’ homes. A smart speaker can act as a hub or focal point for consumers to control all of their telco-delivered services while the operator itself will have a new means of communicating with its customers to promote new services or offers.”
David Mercer, Vice President of Strategy Analytics’ Digital Consumer Practice added, “The rapid adoption of smart speakers is helping to drive a profound change in the way in which consumers access information and services. Traditional screen based apps and web pages are unlikely to disappear anytime soon but technology companies are starting to recognize that if they want to stay relevant in a post-app world then a voice interface is a critical component of any service or device that they offer. Media companies and content aggregators face particular challenges due to the potential reduction or even complete loss of brand visibility in a voice-first world. Facebook has already announced its intentions to bring its own display based smart speakers to market this year while other high profile content providers such as Spotify may also look to build their own hardware to ensure visibility of their own services and drive customer growth.”