Despite the increase in competitors, Amazon is still the frontrunner in the home smart speaker race. eMarketer reports that Amazon is expected to maintain its lead through 2021 with Amazon Echo devices estimated to make up 70% of total US smart speaker users.
Last year, it was observed that 72.9% of consumers opted to use an Amazon Echo for their smart speaker but that number has gone down to 69.7% for this year. By 2021, it’s expected to decrease further to 68.2%. And while Amazon’s numbers are decreasing, it still maintains a rather large gap from its competitors.
Google-branded smart speakers hold second to Amazon with 31.7% for this year and expected to rise slightly to 32% by 2021. eMarketer’s report bundles the rest of the competing devices, such as Apple’s HomePod, Harman Kardon Invoke, and the Sonos One, into an “other” category whose users make up a meager 18.4% for this year with an expected increase to 18.8% for next year.
“We had previously expected Google and Apple to make more inroads in this market, but Amazon has remained aggressive. By offering affordable devices and building out the number of Alexa skills, the company has maintained Echo’s appeal,” says eMarketer’s principal analyst, Victoria Petrock.
Amazon’s smart speaker had a first-mover advantage in the US with the Echo and its built-in assistant, Alexa. Since then, Amazon was aggressive in keeping its lead by constantly offering updates and features that further improved the existing device. Not only have the devices been relatively affordable, but by constantly updating Alexa and adding to its skills, the Echo has become more intuitive and useful over time. They’re also compatible with a plethora of Amazon-branded as well as third-party smart home devices. It’s important to note, though, that this is not a feature unique to the Echo as other smart speakers are capable of connecting to third-party devices.
Outside the US, though, Amazon falls short due to its lack of support for different languages. Compared to other smart speakers, Amazon doesn’t carry as many non-English languages which has made them less popular in non-English speaking countries.
As the rise of other smart assistant-enabled devices continues, the overall use of smart speakers, in general, is expected to decline. There are already a handful of devices on the market, such as cars and home appliances, that have a smart assistant on-board which means the technology is becoming more familiar to the everyday user. The report details that there will be 83.1 million smart speaker users this year, a 13.7% increase from last year.