Retail

IKEA Unveils Smart-Speaker Line

IKEA

Continuing its foray into smart-home devices, IKEA is rolling out four smart speakers dubbed Eneby. The launch, however, is the company’s first venture in audio, TheNextWeb reported.

The speakers come in two sizes and two colors, and the smaller speakers retail for the same price as a Google Home Mini or an Amazon Echo Dot at $49. All the Eneby speakers are listed on IKEA’s website, but customers can’t purchase them quite yet.

The product launches come after IKEA rolled out other tech products, such as smart-home lighting in 2017. In addition to the new products, the retailer sells wireless chargers. One charger, for example, is built into a desk lamp.

IKEA’s Eneby debut comes as smart-speaker penetration is still fairly low, according to an NPR survey, with only about 16 percent of Americans saying they own one. That is divided unevenly between Google and Amazon users. Amazon has commanding lead — 11 percent of that 16 percent for the retailer, and the remaining 5 percent or so flows to Google.

But stay tuned for those figures to change — holiday 2017 had a hot gift, and speakers might have been it. About 7 percent of Americans got a smart speaker this year and 4 percent got their first smart speaker this year.

The same study showed that smart-speaker ownership tended to dampen enthusiasm for other activities. For example, 39 percent of those surveyed noted that they now listen to the radio less than they once did, 34 percent noted they were spending less time with their smartphone because of their smart speaker, and 30 percent said they were watching less TV because of it.

And that change seems to persist over time. Unlike wearables, which tend to have an initial burst of consumer interest before the customer loses interest and the wearable moves to a drawer, people seem to use their smart speakers more over time. As of the survey, 51 percent of smart-speaker owners report using it more a month in, while 33 percent claim to use it about the same amount and 16 percent say they are using it less.

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