Amazon is dominating the voice-controlled speaker market, according to a new forecast from eMarketer out this morning. The maker of the Echo-branded speakers will have 70.6 percent of all voice-enabled speaker users in the U.S. this year – well ahead of Google Home's 23.8 percent and other, smaller players like Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon, and Mattel, who combined only account for 5.6 percent of users.
The new report backs up another from VoiceLabs released in January, which also found that Amazon was leading the voice-first device market, thanks to Echo's popularity.
While the market itself is not expected to be a winner-take-all scenario, competitors like Amazon and Google will win entire homes, as most consumers have said they wouldn't consider buying a competing device once they already own one voice-controlled speaker.
Alphabet Inc. should give every household in America a free Google Home Mini smart speaker, a Morgan Stanley analyst suggested Thursday.
The speakers currently retail for $49 each, which would mean spending about $3.3 billion. Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak wrote Thursday that would be a "small price to pay" for Google-parent Alphabet. He estimated that the company could compensate for that cost about five times over through the operating profits it generates more generally from retail search over the next five years.
Nowak worries that Google is losing ground to Amazon.com Inc. when it comes to retail search queries, given that more purchases are being made through voice commands and Amazon is widely thought to have a lead on Google in terms of smart-speaker penetration. He projects that roughly 70% of households will have speakers by 2022, and that Amazon will have 1.3 times more speakers in homes than Google will at that point, absent any dramatic action.
Mattel will not sell an all-in-one voice-controlled smart hub / baby monitor, setting back the state of parenting by decades or even millennia:
Toymaker Mattel has shelved plans to build an "all-in-one voice-controlled smart baby monitor," after complaints about the device were raised by privacy advocates and child psychologists. According to a report from The Washington Post, the company said in a statement that the device, named Aristotle, did not "fully align with Mattel's new technology strategy" and would not be "[brought] to the marketplace."
Aristotle was unveiled back in January this year by Mattel's Nabi brand. It combined the smart speaker and digital assistant functionality of Amazon's Echo with a connected camera that acted as a baby monitor. But the Aristotle was intended to be a much more active presence in children's lives than an Echo speaker, with Mattel claiming it would read them bedtime stories, soothe them if they cried in the night, and even teach them their ABCs.
Mattel also appointed a new chief financial officer.
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Amazon Dominates Voice-Controlled Speaker Market
Adoption of voice-powered smart speakers is taking off. According to a new report from Juniper Research out this morning, smart devices like the Amazon Echo, Google Home and Sonos One will be installed in a majority – that is, 55 percent – of U.S. households by the year 2022. By that time, over 70 million households will have at least one of these smart speakers in their home, and the total number of installed devices will top 175 million.
The new forecast follows other reports pointing to growth in the voice-enabled speaker market, including one from eMarketer this spring which said that 35.6 million U.S. consumers would use a voice-activated device at least once per month in 2017, representing 128.9 percent growth over last year.
Despite the increased adoption of smart speakers with voice control capabilities, the new report points out that the majority of voice assistant usage won't be through these in-home devices. Instead, the most usage will occur on smartphones, with over 5 billion assistants installed on smartphones worldwide by 2022.
Amazon's Echo, Plus and Dot speakers will finally be available in Japan starting next week. To prepare for the devices' arrival in the island nation, the e-retail giant taught the voice assistant how to understand and respond in the Japanese language. Alexa SVP Tom Taylor said the company designed an all-new experience "from the ground up for Japanese customers, including a new Japanese voice, local knowledge and over 250 skills from Japanese developers."
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Alibaba's version of the digital personal assistant will be available on August 8th only in China and without a display:
Alibaba's "Tmall Genie X1" will go for 499 yuan ($73) to the first 1,000 people during a one-month trial, coming in below Apple's $349 HomePod and the roughly $180 Echo. Its biggest competitor, Tencent Holdings Ltd., is developing a voice-activated digital speaker that could hit the market within months, Tencent President Martin Lau said in a May interview. And on Wednesday, Baidu Inc. showed off its own "DuerOS" personal assistant.
Taking a page from Amazon.com Inc. and Google, Hangzhou-based Alibaba's speaker offers voice-controlled services from music streaming to newscasts and calendar-booking, according to its website. Importantly, the gadget -- powered by the AliGenie system -- may eventually simplify shopping for the Chinese e-commerce giant's 450 million active buyers who turn to the website for everything from cherries to makeup.
Originally spotted on The Eponymous Pickle.