Canalys forecasts the worldwide smart speaker installed base will grow 82.4% from 114.0 million units in 2018 to 207.9 million in 2019. The US is expected to maintain its lead in terms of smart speaker adoption, accounting for 42.2% of the global smart speaker installed base by the end of the year. The East Asian markets stood out, particularly China, as these countries present larger growth opportunities due to the sheer number of middle-class households and a working population willing to embrace new technology. The Chinese market is one of the world’s most competitive, yet Google and Amazon have no presence there.
“The growing installed base of smart speakers is an opportunity to create new business models and to drive profit beyond music and audio content streaming services,” said Canalys Senior Analyst Jason Low. “Smart assistants are becoming a conduit to offer services, such as assisted living, healthcare and government services. Smart speakers and smart displays are relatively new device categories for service entities, and platform vendors have a responsibility to ensure that partners and developers know how to use them and their smart assistants to get the most value out of every interaction with end users.”
China’s smart speaker installed base is expected to reach 59.9 million units by the end of 2019. “Local vendors are bullish about China’s smart speaker market, and their aim for this year is to keep growing their respective installed bases in the country by shipping more devices into households,” continued Low. “Hardware differentiation is becoming increasingly difficult, and consumers have higher expectations of smart speakers and smart assistants. Vendors will need to focus on marketing the next-generation ‘wow factor’ for their respective smart assistants and voice services to change consumers’ perception and drive greater adoption.”
The extended ICT industry should now take note of the size and speed of smart speaker market growth, as well as the rising use of smart assistants. “Vendors want smart assistants to be the default option for channeling vital information and communication duties for the masses, allowing for new service integration, such as digital health and assisted living. Extended technology players in the fields of security, finance, health, data analytics and others should be on the lookout for new opportunities arising from this trend.”