A new market research report out from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners offering a look at the smart speaker landscape paints a pretty lopsided picture of the state of things, such that you might justifiably read the key takeaways and wonder if the race is pretty much over at this point.
Among the key findings: First, the smart speaker market continues to grow. It’s consistently ticked upward from 36 million units in December 2017 to 53 million units this past September to, now, 66 million units. That’s been helped along, according to the CIRP data, in part by the fact that the number of people owning more than one of these speakers is likewise growing. Through December 31, 35% of all smart speaker owners reported having more than one such device, compared to just 18% of owners saying the same thing one year earlier.
Likewise, the winners in the smart speaker race — Amazon and Google — have also been pretty consistent in their position, and remain so.
Amazon, with its lineup of various Echo speaker devices, is far and away the category leader, accounting for a whopping 70 percent of the US installed base. That’s according to the CIRP analysis, which based its findings on a survey of 500 US owners of Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod devices that took place between January 1 through January 11.
Google Home, meanwhile, comes in second, accounting for 24% of the installed base, with Apple’s HomePod rounding out the top three and accounting for 6%.
“Holiday shoppers helped the smart speaker market take off again,” said CIRP co-founder and partner Josh Lowitz. “Relative market shares have remained fairly stable, with Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod accounting for consistent shares over the past few quarters. Amazon and Google both have broad model lineups, ranging from basic to high-end, with even more variants from Amazon. Apple of course has only its premium-priced HomePod, and likely won’t gain significant share until it offers an entry-level product closer to Echo Dot and Home mini.”
As CNBC notes in a piece today, it’s not exactly a straightforward comparison to look at Apple alongside Google and Amazon here. Apple’s HomePod, for example, costs $349, compared to Google’s speakers that start at $29.99 and Amazon’s that start even lower, at $19.99. And in addition to being more expensive, “While the HomePod prides itself on high-quality audio and the fact that it does not store conversations in the cloud as other devices do, the number of services it supports is narrower compared with its competitors. Siri will only listen to commands to play music from Apple’s own streaming service, and playing from other services, like Spotify, require a more complicated setup.”
However, the piece goes on, it’s also worth noting that Apple has been tweaking its strategy related to Apple Music and “is now starting to offer the service to smart speakers with bigger market share.”