Smart speakers are getting smarter, more functional, and more popular. Equipped with the artificial intelligence (AI) of voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri, these wireless devices operate via built-in voice control.
At present, people mostly use smart speakers to listen to music, but also use them as voice assistants for command functions and to search for information online.
Smart speakers are fast becoming a household item, with saturation in the US reaching more than 20%, according to Edison Research.
Amazon and Google smart speakers currently account for approximately 85% of the market, but Apple, Samsung, and smaller brands are racing to secure a place in this rapidly expanding market.
For 2019, expect the quality of smart speakers to increase as manufacturers add new features, improve audio quality, and make it easier to integrate multiple connected devices.
Businesses can use this article to learn the trends and specific functions to expect from smart speakers in 2019.
1. Voice Recognition Will Improve
Smart speakers have historically prioritized “smart” aspects over audio quality, but that could change.
Smart speaker are located most often in people's living rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens, according to Adobe. This is partially out of necessity, since they their range is limited.
A range of Alexa-powered and Bluetooth devices can pair with small speakers to deliver more range for people to use their devices throughout their homes without necessarily being within point-blank range.
2. Amazon’s Market Share Will Continue to Slide
Amazon’s Alexa is the current market leader among virtual assistant devices, according to a survey from Clutch. Its dominance, though, is on the relative decline.
Amazon flooded the market early with the inexpensive Echo and Echo Dot speaker. Though Echo speakers are still the category leader, they are slowly ceding ground.
Mostly, this is due to investment from Google and Apple. Given the ubiquity of their respective operating systems – iOS and Android – Google and Apple can easily roll-out functionalities that people can synch their existing devices to.
Alexa is the leading voice-controlled personal assistant due to its more than 7,000 integrations, or “skills,” that allows it to connect with a wide range of third-party apps.
Google Assistant, however, is more adept at answering voice search queries than its competitors.
The ever-more connected internet of things (IoT) ecosystem runs off Amazon’s AI, but Google and Apple are closing the gap.
3. New Applications and Functionalities Will Be Available
More apps will be available on smart speakers in 2019. You’ll be able to command your smart speaker to book an Uber, listen to Spotify, or order Dominos Pizza.
Clutch’s survey indicates that accessing important information is the primary benefit of using a connected device.
This benefit is a result of people’s increasing tendency to conduct searches using their voice rather than mobile or desktop. People gravitate towards what is easiest, and voice search presents an opportunity to access information without having to display the concerted effort of opening a web or mobile browser (as challenging as that is).
This behavioral inclination and data suggest that people will increasingly use smart speakers to access services and information, particularly more apps are developed with voice-enabled functionalities.
Consumers want to be inspired to use connected devices in new and exciting ways. The ability for smart speakers to perform more advanced tasks and answer more complex queries boosts the appeal of other in-home connected devices such as smart thermostats, lighting, and washers.
At present, though, adoption for these convenience-enhancing devices is hampered by the limited connectivity of smart devices.
4. Interoperability Will Be a Standard
The challenges people experience with interconnectivity and interoperability between devices are being addressed.
Apple HomeKit, for example, allows users to connect third-party devices to their iOS ecosystem simply by scanning their barcode.
This connected functionality also avoids a major pain point of smart device owners: connecting their devices to one another.
Most people will abandon smart devices if complex setup or constant maintenance are required.
The HomeKit setup makes it easier for users to connect different devices, which increases the likelihood they will expand their IoT ecosystem. It also incentivizes IoT developers and manufacturers to develop devices with a compatible infrastructure to iOS so that they can market to HomeKit owners.
Apple HomeKit supports devices such as Phillips Hue lights, Smart Blinds from IKEA, and a variety of smart locks, thermostats, and TVs.
With connectivity guaranteed, people are free to enjoy the convenience of smart appliances without the headache of integrations.
What to Anticipate From Smart Speakers
Smart speakers are a staple in the modern home. Manufacturers are working to differentiate their products, so the power, connectivity, and functionality of these devices will continue to grow.
Amazon’s Alexa is the most supported voice-assistant and will continue to afford consumers the most robust experience among connected devices, though they are experienced heightened competition from other big tech players.