In early 2018 Apple will launch its HomePod device, a smart home speaker/assistant to rival Amazon Echo and Google Home. Further competition is expected from Samsung and Sonos, among others.
Yet in the UK, 2 in 3 consumers don’t yet have any of the leading smart home products in their household and only 11% currently use a smart speaker. Even more important is that it’s only 1 in 3 who are interested in owning one in the future, underlining how consumers have so far failed to be persuaded of the necessity of these devices.
Part of the challenge for manufacturers comes from mobile, where voice search has been integrated on the majority of mid-to-premium tier devices already, adding to the device’s advantages over a speaker in having a more frequent upgrade cycle and inherent portability. While smart speakers can function as a hub for other devices throughout a home, it is likely the interface to do this will be controlled through smartphone apps anyway.
Unless smart speakers start to prove their value, they could easily become the next tablet: a device which enjoyed early uptake but then struggled to compete with the endless advances and popularity of the smartphone.