The smart speaker installed base is expected to near the 100 million mark by the end of 2018, representing close to 2.5 times the installed base at the end of last year.
According to market research firm Canalys, the installed base will continue to grow beyond this year, hitting 225 million units by 2020. Leading the market will be the Amazon Echo, which Canalys predicts will have 50 percent of the installed base this year. In second is Google’s Home which Canalys said will account for 30 percent of the installed devices, while Apple’s HomePod will have just 4% of the market by the end of this year.
“The U.S. is the world leader in smart speaker adoption,” said Canalys Research Analyst Vincent Thielke. “Amazon and Google know the power of an ecosystem lock-in and have been engaged in a fierce price war to try and build the largest installed base. As Amazon’s Prime Day looms, customers expect discounts, and the company is set for a rush of shipments.” According to the analyst, Amazon and Google are taking their devices beyond the smart home and deploying them for new use cases, which should boost demand and their installed base. “Their business development teams are targeting commercial opportunities, such as hotels, offices, gyms and airports, with initiatives such as Amazon’s Alexa for Business and Alexa for Hospitality. These deployments are a major opportunity for the IT channel to develop solutions and provide technical skills and services that customers may lack,” said Thielke in the report.
As for China, Canalys said that the market is a “sleeping giant” with local players including Alibaba and Xiaomi investing heavily in the space. For the second half of this year, Canalys Research analyst Hattie He said sales promotions will be a big driver of smart speaker adoption in China, with vendors expecting an increase in shipments during the country’s shopping events. “As competition intensifies, Chinese vendors will expand their product portfolios to hit more price points and offer a greater range of capabilities. But for long-term growth in China, a more complete voice service and better user engagement are just as important. China has massive potential, with more than 450 million households, over three times the number in the U.S.,” said He.