The race to become the ultimate smart speaker in every household has officially begun. A recent survey conducted by eMarketer, a digital research firm that specializes in helping understand the market with in-depth surveys confirmed that the adoption of smart speakers will grow by 18.9% in the United States.
The North American buyers have always been at the forefront to adopt technology and innovative new products. Be it the groundbreakingly good iPhone or the tablets, people adopted it at an unprecedented rate but the same cannot be said about smart speakers. Amazon made a brave business decision to launch the Alexa AI-powered Echo speaker way back in 2014. Within just three and a half years of its launch, everyone has actually taken a liking to voicing out commands to a speaker even though it was considered awkward and non-intuitive a couple of years ago.
Music is Still #1 Priority on Smart Speakers
The survey published by eMarketer confirmed that even though these speakers are powered by intelligent voice assistants, people still see them as sound machines. At least 74% of the people who participated in the survey confirmed that they use them to listen to music. Compared to what professional grade loudspeakers would offer, the Amazon Echo or Google Home may be slightly less in terms of music quality.
Most reviews by popular tech bloggers and YouTubers confirmed that both speakers are relatively loud, good enough to listen to music while you are working in the kitchen, relaxing in the living room or working out in your home gym. The biggest advantage of using these devices for music listening is that you don’t have to manually use a smartphone to change a song or find one. You can simply ask for the song and Google Assistant or Alexa will play it for you.
With an intuitive AI powering them, it is no wonder the majority of the population who own a smartspeaker use it for music. The next big usage scenario as confirmed by the survey is that at least 72.1% of users have asked questions to know the current time, weather condition or to quickly know some information. The concept is quite similar to how people use Google’s search engine to get their queries answered but asking a question, “what time is it?” is considered more intuitive that made most users adopt it.
Users Aren’t Keen on Shopping with Google Assistant or Alexa
The survey further revealed that people are not interested in shopping using Google Assistant or Alexa. Unlike a desktop website or an app which you can manually scroll through or type a product’s name, one has to vocally spell every time they want to buy or browse something. The process does sound tedious and it led to a decreased number of users actually purchasing items using a smart speaker.
Amazon has a large repository of collection and Amazon Echo should be a popular choice for shoppers while Google Home is equally powerful with an efficient search engine in the background. About 39.2% of users confirmed they used the AI-powered speakers for shopping and only 28.2% of the lot actually purchased an item. While further reasons on why the numbers are so low weren’t revealed, it is evident that most users don’t find it intuitive and may have used the speakers to add items to their shopping list.
There is always the option to pick up your smartphone, manually verify all the items that are added to your shopping list and complete the purchase. The same cannot be done on a speaker as it can repeatedly list out all items vocally but users may find it difficult to keep track of everything in the cart unless it is showcased in an easy to read list.
Building the Ultimate Smart Home is Still a Long Way to Go
When major companies launched their version of smart speakers, be it Amazon Echo or Google Home, the idea was to make it easy for users to control their smart home. In theory, it was supposed to be used to control smart light bulbs, locks, doors and security systems. You can conveniently switch them on or off, reduce brightness and lock your house with a voice command.
Everything sounds great but the survey results say otherwise as only 33.1% of the user population used their speakers to control their smart homes. In order to use it, they require compatible lights, doors and security systems which may take years to be fully adopted in most homes in the United States.
Amazon Echo Vs Google Home – America’s Most Popular Smart Speaker?
Amazon was the first to the market when they launched the Amazon Echo in 2014 followed by multiple products including the Dot and the Show. Being the first company to step into the smart speaker market obviously gave them a major advantage and eMarketer’s survey results confirmed they hold a major portion, 66.6% of the smart speaker market but Google is slowly catching up.
According to USA Today, the 2018 report confirmed that Google Home has managed to acquire a market share of 29.4% which is expected to grow to an exponential 33% in 2020.
Google is Winning Over Amazon’s Smart Speakers
Amazon Echo has a powerful AI, Alexa that can understand most users’ requests and respond accordingly. Google’s advantage over them with their Google Home is the fact that they own Android and it is the most popular mobile operating system in the world. If you already use an Android smartphone, Google Assistant will be able to detect your preferences on multiple devices and respond accordingly.
Google offers Google Home, Home Mini, and Home Max while Amazon offers Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Spot and Echo Show at different price points. Most users with an Android phone will consider opting for Google Home while Prime subscribers may find Amazon’s offerings more lucrative as the smart speaker market grows further in the future. And, there’s the Apple Home pod featuring Siri and if you are already a huge fan of Apple and invested into their ecosystem, it’s the best option to go with.
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