The global smart speaker market is poised to grow to 56.3 million shipments in 2018, as the technology prepares itself for accelerated adoption in the consumer market, according to Canalys. Amazon and Google are expected to remain in the lead with their Echo and Home products respectively, but will face increased competition as new vendors such as Apple enter the race, adds the research group.
Apple’s HomePod is expected to go on sale early this year and cost $349. The device is just under seven inches tall and looks like a piece of furniture. It will be available in both space gray and white, and also acts as a hub for HomeKit devices to provide remote access to home automation.
The U.S. will remain the single most important market for smart speakers in 2018, as shipments are expected to reach 38.4 million units, with China a distant second at 4.4 million units.
“2018 will be the defining year for smart speaker adoption,” says Canalys Research Analyst Lucio Chen. “Smart speaker uptake has grown faster than any other consumer technology we’ve recently encountered, such as AR, VR or even wearables. While 2017 has been a banner year for smart speakers in terms of hardware sales, especially for Google and Amazon, smart speakers in 2018 will move beyond hardware, with strategic attempts to monetize the growing installed base in the US and beyond. The possibilities to do this are endless, be it discreet advertising, content subscription bundles, premium services or enterprise solutions. The technology is still in transition, and increased investments from multiple players of the ecosystem will fuel growth.”