Google and Apple remain incapable of challenging Amazon's smart speaker dominance

Google and Apple remain incapable of challenging Amazon's smart speaker dominance
Smart speakers have been expanding at a pretty insane pace in the last few years, but at least in the US, the market is expected to substantially slow down its growth in the near future. eMarketer researchers anticipate a boost of 13.7 percent in 2020 US smart speaker users compared to 2019, bringing the grand total up to 83.1 million, with single-digit growth then predicted for 2021.

The relatively young industry is thus moving closer to its maturity point, which means it will become even harder to challenge the crushing dominance of market pioneer Amazon. The e-commerce giant single-handedly carved out this new niche of the consumer electronics industry with the 2014 launch of the first Echo generation, resisting Google's attacks by continuously improving Alexa's skills and broadening its smart speaker portfolio to cover every size and price point.

While Amazon lost a little market share between 2017 and 2018, it quickly bounced back to an estimated 72.9 percent slice of the US pie last year, looking at retaining its comfortable lead through 2021. If eMarketer's forecast proves accurate, 69.7 percent of US smart speaker users will own an Echo this year, compared to the 31.7 percent expected to turn to Google-branded devices and the combined 18.4 percent share of "other" companies.

Those figures obviously don't add up to 100 percent, and that's because an unexpectedly large number of people stateside are apparently simultaneously using smart speakers from multiple brands. To qualify as a "user", by the way, you do actually have to use a smart speaker "at least once per month", so if any of those Google Home Mini units the search giant has been giving away for free over the years is just sitting in a drawer, it doesn't count.

Meanwhile, in case you're wondering, the "other" section includes everyone from Apple to Harman Kardon and Sonos, the former of which was long expected to "make more inroads in this market" and perhaps even threaten Amazon's position. But in the absence of a budget-friendly HomePod model or at least a second generation of the premium Siri-controlled device, it's really not surprising to see Apple treated as an afterthought in these forward-looking market reports.


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