Google's share in smart speakers is expected to increase as it launches in more markets, while Amazon will continue to lead the segment until 2020.
Until two years ago, Amazon Echo was the sole smart speaker in the market. The early-mover advantage helped Amazon lord over that segment of consumer tech even after its rivals Google and Apple rolled out their variants of voice-enabled speakers. But, things are changing now.
Yes, Amazon continues to lead the market, but its share is declining as consumers take to more pocket-friendly options like the Google Home Mini. A new study by eMarketer estimates Amazon Echo’s share is down to 66.6 percent now from 70.6 percent less than a year ago. It is seen falling further to about 60 percent by 2020.
Google Home, on the other hand, saw its share surge to 25 percent in 2017 triggered by the launch of the affordable Mini speakers. Google Home is estimated to end the year with a 30 percent market share, and this could rise to 33 percent by 2020. Other smart speakers, including the Apple HomePod, make up 6-8 percent of the market.
Jaimie Chung, forecasting analyst at eMarketer, stated,
“Google Home’s competitively priced Mini drove growth for the brand in the 2017 holiday season. With Amazon and Google vying for spots in both the smart-home and ecommerce spaces, Google’s pricing has revitalised the Artificial Intelligence race to dominate the home.”
Smart speakers as a category grew a massive 40 percent in 2017, riding on expanded capabilities and functionalities of the devices. For the first time, smart speakers have outgrown wearable devices in the West.
The most popular activity on smart speakers is listening to audio, that includes music, podcasts and digital radio. That is followed by seeking answers to questions. A small set of users also use the Echo to shop on Amazon Prime. “They are using their devices for shopping (browsing, price comparing and adding to carts), controlling their smart-home devices and buying items,” eMarketer stated.
Amazon Echo versus Google Home in India
Amazon debuted its smart speakers in India last October ahead of the Diwali season. It launched the Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Plus which users could buy on an invite-only basis on Amazon.in. Amazon made the deal more compelling by bundling a year’s worth of Amazon Prime subscription with it. The products went on open sale in February this year.
Last month, Amazon added the video-enabled Echo Spot to its smart speaker portfolio in India. The Echo Spot offers an audiovisual interface to consumers, and even supports activities like Alexa-to-Alexa hands-free video calls. In order to boost adoption in India, Amazon has also equipped Alexa with Indian language skills.
Meanwhile, Google launched the Home and Home Mini smart speakers in India last month to take the competition to Amazon Echo. The Mini retails at almost the same price as the Echo Dot, and Google has exclusively partnered with Amazon-rival Flipkart to sell the product. Google too is making the deal sweeter by offering a six-month Google Play Music subscription to Home buyers in India.
Rishi Chandra, VP of Product Management and General Manager of Home Products, Google, said at the launch,
“These products have been customised to match the needs of the Indian consumer and you will see that Google Home is truly desi. It understands Indian accents, and will respond to you with uniquely Indian contexts.”
Investment bank RBC Capital Markets states in a report that “Google’s share will go up as it expands its smart speakers to more markets.” India is a critical cog in the wheel because of the sheer size of its consumption class. Both Amazon and Google are acutely aware of the opportunity lying here and will be out to outdo the other.