Amazon's dominant position in the US intelligent speaker market will continue this year and next. Competitors like Google and Apple have seen only a small drop in Amazon Echo's market share, according to a report released today by eMarketer. The analyst firm estimates that Amazon will easily remain at the top by 2021 if nearly 70% of U.S. smart speaker owners continue to use an Amazon Echo device.
In particular, 69.7% of users of U.S. smart speakers will use an echo in 2020, a slight decrease from 72.9% in the previous year. The number will continue to decrease in 2021, when 68.2% of U.S. smart speaker owners will use an Echo device. In the meantime, 31.7% of smart speaker owners will use a Google brand device in 2020, and only 18.4% will use another brand – such as Apple HomePod, Sonos One or Harmon Kardon Invoke. (The percentages are over 100% because some smart speaker owners own more than one brand, the report says.)
These numbers show the challenges Apple HomePod, Google Home, and others are facing in conquering a significant portion of the U.S. smart speaker market.
Because once a consumer buys their first device, they are unlikely to change the brand for the next device. Instead, the first device – like Amazon – gives the company a foot in the door to prove the usefulness of its smart speakers. When the customer is ready to expand by adding a new bedroom or kitchen device, they may typically return to buy the same brand again, as devices are designed to work across the home.
This is not always the case, but it is often the case.
Amazon is very aware of this trend and has practically given away its entry-level device, the Echo Dot. The low-end device is currently sold on the retailer's website for $ 29.99 and is often commercially available. During Amazon's annual Prime Day sale, the retailer lowers prices for Alexa devices even further and has made the Echo Dot a Prime Day bestseller for several years.
Outside of the U.S., Amazon's echo may not have the same benefits, the report says.
The Echo is less competitive in some markets because it supports fewer non-English languages than key competitors like Google Home.
However, the United States remains a key market for the introduction of smart speakers. Therefore, Amazon's strengths should not be overlooked here.
"Since Amazon launched the Echo, it has built a convincing lead in the US and continues to beat the challenges of its top competitors," said Victoria Petrock, principal analyst at eMarketer. “We had previously expected Google and Apple to gain a foothold in this market, but Amazon remains aggressive. By offering affordable devices and expanding Alexa knowledge, the company has retained Echo's appeal, ”she added.
The company also expects the number of users of U.S. smart speakers to continue to grow in the next few years, but growth will slow down. Currently 28.9% of internet users also use a smart speaker. This number is expected to reach 30.5% next year.
This year, the number of smart speaker users in the United States will increase by 13.7% to 83.1 million. However, eMarketer forecasts that growth in 2021 will be in the single digits.
However, this does not mean that these users do not use voice assistants. Instead, smart speakers will only be one way that consumers interact with technology through voice. Over time, consumers will also start using voice assistants built into other devices such as vehicles, devices, other smart home devices, and more. And let's not forget that both Google and Apple offer voice assistants for smartphones – Google Assistant and Siri – whose usage numbers dwarf echo adoption.
There are more than half a billion Siri-enabled devices and half a billion Google Assistant users. In other words, people who interact with a voice assistant today are likely to do so on their iOS or Android phone rather than Alexa. On the other hand, it is noteworthy that Amazon has been able to create a new market for its Echo speakers, as the competition holds a massive lead in voice assistants.
EMarketer's report isn't the first in which Amazon claims a 70% share of the smart speaker market. A CIRP report last year had said that too.