There are a ridiculous number of smart speakers in my house: a Google Max, a Google Home, two Google Minis, one Amazon Echo and an Echo Dot. Crazy, I know, but part of what I do is check out new technologies. And I’ll be honest: it’s pretty cool to ask Alexa to play something on my Sonos system and have it respond with an on-the-fly playlist based on my preferences.
If you don’t have a smart speaker yet, it’s probably just a matter of time, especially if you have kids. I have friends whose children are already super-comfortable just asking Google or Alexa for something about…well, anything. This, after all, is the generation that’s growing up with tablets and smartphones and always-on 24/7 Borg-like connectivity.
According to a research company called Canalys, more than 100 million smart speakers will be in use by the end of the year, which means 2.5 x more than were installed at the end of 2017. By 2020, the number will be closer to 225 million.
At the moment, Amazon Echo devices are in the lead with a market penetration of just over 50% while Google gear is in second with 30%. Apple’s much-delayed HomePod is in the rear with just 4%,
When we break things down by country, 73% of all smart speakers are in the US–no surprise there, given (a) the population base; and (b) Amazon launched there first. The UK is in second spot (10%) followed by Germany (8%), China (3%) and Canada (2%). The biggest growth territories are seen to be China and Japan.
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