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Apple sold 2.4 million smart speakers at the U.S. market during first quarter of 2021, according to the market research company Omdia, beating Google’s sales by 100,000 units during precisely the exact same period. The firm estimates the brand new Apple HomePod miniature accounted for 91 percent of Apple’s U.S. smart speaker sales throughout that moment.
Apple’s share of clever speaker shipments from the U.S. market attained 17.8 percent throughout the first quarter, a 9 percent increase year over year. But Omdia quotes there were 75 million smart speakers predicated on Google Assistant in the marketplace at the end of 2020, in comparison to only 10 million according to Apple’s Siri. And Amazon dominates both of those rivals, using a current installed base of 141 million smart speakers with its Alexa voice helper. Omdia’s numbers for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa include third-party smart speakers (excluding soundbars) according to those technologies; Apple, of course, doesn’t license Siri.
Omdia smart house analyst Blake Kozak, however, predicts Apple’s advantage over Google will not last, because Apple doesn’t have a HomePod using a screen. Kozak estimates that 38 percentage of smart speakers shipped globally during the first quarter of 2021 were outfitted with screens, which only 4 percent of the wise speakers sent during that period were mobile models. Kozak also forecasts strong sales of this Google Nest Hub (2nd Gen) will enable Google to recover its lead over Apple. Amazon, meanwhile, has a commanding lead in the wise speaker market in the U.S., Germany, France, United Kingdom, Australia, China, and South Korea, shipping 8.2 million units in the first quarter of 2021 alone.
According to Omdia, total clever speaker sales from the first quarter rose by a whopping 122 percent year over year, however, the company believes fewer consumers are buying their initial smart speaker compared to a couple decades ago. In accordance with its findings, over two-thirds of earnings are likely to customers who are adding components to houses that currently have at least one. When the firm surveyed 14,400 individuals across six countries in November 2020, Kozak says, they logged a 26 percent increase year over year in respondents who said they owned two or more intelligent speakers.
To change that dynamic and convince additional first-time buyers to enter the wise speaker market, Kozak believes manufacturers will need to develop new use cases for clever speakers and smart screens, pointing into the new sleep-tracking feature in the second-gen Nest Hub and the swiveling display on the Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) as examples of qualities which will probably attract new buyers.
In the poll mentioned earlier, Omdia also asked clever speaker owners exactly what they used their devices for many often. The most obvious usage instance was”answering a question,” followed by”check the weather/news,” however Kozak says the fastest-growing use case is to control smart home devices.
Looking at the global smart speaker marketplace, Amazon accounted for 22 percent of shipments in the first quarter, but three Chinese producers are closing fast: Alibaba sent 21 percent of all smart speakers sold at the first quarter, while Baidu and Xiaomi were responsible for 14 percentage each. Google’s worldwide market share was 9 percent, while Apple and various different producers divvied up the rest 20 percent of their pie. All that said, Kozak reports few if any Alibaba, Baidu, or Xiaomi smart speakers are available in North America. He says the European economy could start to see wise speakers in Xiaomi and Huawei after this year or in early 2022, together with the former relying on Google Assistant.
As for the future of speakers, Kozak predicts Thread and CHIP (Connected Home over IP) will become increasingly significant –over time. Meanwhile, more recognized connectivity technologies like Z-Wave and Zigbee will prevail. “…until more brands start releasing Thread enabled devices or until CHIP takes hold,” Kozak said, “Thread will remain a niche connectivity technology for the smart home.”
Google, Amazon, and Apple are on the CHIP bandwagon, but only Apple and Google have products with Thread radios now: Google’s Nest Hub (2nd Gen), Nest Hub Max, and Nest Wi-Fi net network platform; and Apple’s brand new HomePod mini. The just-announced, second-gen Apple TV 4K, which is due to arrive next month, will also boast a Thread radio.
Amazon is sticking with Zigbee for now, a technology it’s supported since the Amazon Echo Plus debuted in 2017, although its Ring smart home branch supports Z-Wave as well (the Ring Alarm system has both Z-Wave and Zigbee radios).
Kozak includes a similarly favorable outlook for Apple’s HomeKit smart house technology. “Up until about 12 months ago,” Kozak said, “both Apple and Thread had limited impact on the smart home market, but this is changing rapidly. Apple’s HomeKit should have an expanded role across the smart home in the future, especially as Apple looks to reduce the proprietary nature of its platform.”
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Michael covers the smart-home, home-entertainment, and home-networking beats, working in the wise house he built in 2007.