Amazon is the dominant player in smart home automation having sold 20 million Echo units since their launch in 2015. According to a study by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) that surveyed 500 device owners, the increasing range of Alexa-powered devices is giving Amazon an edge but the new offerings from Google will keep up the fight for dominance for a long time.
From the CIRP estimates, Amazon had sold 5 million Echo units a year ago and Google has sold 7 million Google Home devices since the launch of the smart speaker last year. This shows that sales of smart speakers have exponentially grown over the past 12 months.
In CIRP’s study conducted in October, Amazon’s lead stands at 73 percent of the U.S. home automation market while Google takes 27 percent. This represents a drop for Amazon’s Echo products which stood at 76 percent in a previous study in September. Google Home devices on the other hand have gained ground from their previous position of 24 percent market share.
Apple is expected to spoil the party for the two dominant players when it launches the HomePod device expected at the end of the year but Google’s and Amazon’s market presence gives them an advantage that Apple will have to grapple with. According to Josh Lowitz, partner and co-founder of CIRP, there is plenty of room for other players since the market is new and is growing at a very fast pace. However, he cautions that it will be difficult for new entrants with new operating systems to penetrate such a base that has integrated an array of skills and services with Alexa and Google Home.
The field will become crowded as more players join the fray. Last month, Microsoft partnered with a renowned audio device maker to launch the Harman Kardon Invoke, a $199 smart speaker powered by Cortana. Microsoft is taking on Amazon and Google with the launch of the smart speaker that is supposed to rival the Echo and Google Home. The speaker, which accepts voice commands for Cortana, Microsoft’s voice assistant, looks pretty sophisticated than the Echo and Google Home and does well at listening to commands with the built-in microphones. It produces quality 360-degree audio that fills the room evenly.
Other companies are also eyeing the market. Alibaba and Samsung for example have launched their own smart speakers.
With the onslaught that is expected as the new players ramp up their efforts, Google and Amazon are upping their game by diversifying their offerings. Google is expected to launch a $399 smart speaker called Google Home Max in December. Only last week, the company launched the Google Home Mini that costs $49 to compete with Amazon’s Echo Dot.