from the speak-up dept.
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."
Related: Amazon Dominates Voice-Controlled Speaker Market
Amazon is Working on Smart Glasses to House Alexa AI, Says FT
Google Pulls YouTube off of the Amazon Echo Show
Amazon's Alexa Adds Ability to Order from Best Buy
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.
Submitted via IRC for Fnord666_
Amazon is working on building a pair of smart glasses to house its Alexa voice assistant, and a home security camera that could be linked to its existing Echo connected devices to further expand their capabilities, according to a report in the FT citing people familiar with the company's plans.
The newspaper says one or both of these products could be launched before the end of the year, alongside updates to existing Echo devices.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment, saying company policy is not to comment on rumors or speculation.
According to the FT, the smart glasses are intended to be purely an earbuds-free housing for Amazon's Alexa AI — with a bone-conduction audio system that would enable the wearer to hear Alexa without the need to be wired in.
With no mobile platform of its own to build on, Amazon has a strategic disadvantage vs Google and Apple because it cannot bake its voice AI into smartphone hardware where millions of engaged users could easily summon it — hence the company working on a plethora of alternative connected devices to try to put Alexa within earshot anyway.
The idea for the glasses, which would be its first wearable, would be to do just that: Enable Alexa to be summoned from anywhere, vs the current situation where users are barking commands at static in-home speakers.
The FT reports the glasses would wirelessly tether to a user's smartphone for connectivity. They are also apparently being designed to look like a regular pair of spectacles, so they could be worn comfortably and unobtrusively.
Google's popular video-sharing site appears to have disappeared from Amazon's device due to a dispute over how YouTube should work on the Echo Show. According to Amazon, Google pulled support for YouTube on the Echo Show on Tuesday afternoon:
Google made a change today at around 3 pm. YouTube used to be available to our shared customers on Echo Show. As of this afternoon, Google has chosen to no longer make YouTube available on Echo Show, without explanation and without notification to customers. There is no technical reason for that decision, which is disappointing and hurts both of our customers.
But Google accused Amazon of breaking its rules on the way YouTube is presented, adding that talks between the two companies haven't yielded a solution.
We've been in negotiations with Amazon for a long time, working towards an agreement that provides great experiences for customers on both platforms. Amazon's implementation of YouTube on the Echo Show violates our terms of service, creating a broken user experience. We hope to be able to reach an agreement and resolve these issues soon.
The move is likely related to YouTube functionality desktop users are used [to] that is lacking from the Echo Show, including being able to share, recommend and comment on videos.
Also at The Verge.
Electronics retailer Best Buy, considered an Amazon competitor, will sell a limited selection of products through Amazon's Alexa:
In an odd turn for retail cooperation, Best Buy is now available on Alexa, Amazon's voice-powered digital assistant. Starting today, you can learn about and order Best Buy's Deal of the Day sales just by saying, "Alexa, talk to Best Buy." Sure, it seems odd to have a competing service on Amazon's own devices, but as the blog post from Best Buy points out, the big box store has been selling Amazon Alexa devices in a special section in about 700 of its stores earlier this year.
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.