The concept of the smart home has been around since the 1950s, at least. Automate everything, control everything, make everything responsive to the owner’s whim. Tell the controller what you want, and it will do your bidding. In fact, the smart speaker is the latest device to shape the future of the intelligent home.
Smart speakers offer users easy access to a variety of information and entertainment, as well as home control features, through voice interaction. Artificial intelligence and cloud computing typically lie at the heart of their capabilities. Following the launch of Amazon’s Echo, many other vendors entered the market, including Google, Sonos, Baidu, SK Telecom, Panasonic, and Sony. As these platforms mature and ownership grows, new opportunities for service providers, retailers, installers, builders, and other consumer-facing companies are likely to emerge.
On the other hand, the effects of the global component shortage have worked their way into the smart speaker supply chain according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics’ Smart Speakers and Screens service. Strategy Analytics estimates total smart speaker and smart display shipments grew 10% year-over-year to 39.3 million units, a record for a third calendar quarter though essentially flat from Q2 2021’s 39 million as market uncertainties persist, particularly with regards to the impacts of new COVID variants.
While the ongoing and intensifying shortage of semiconductors and other components are not yet a crippling concern for large vendors, smaller vendors that typically operate on the fringes of the market will face more challenges than others. Sales of Smart Displays in Q3 surged year-on-year by almost 19% to 11.2 million units, while sales of basic smart speakers (without a display) increased about 7% over the same period.
Eighteen of the top 50 models sold in Q3 2021 were smart displays, with Google’s Nest Hub taking the smart display crown in Q3 2021 with 1.5 million units shipped, followed by the second generation of Amazon’s Echo Show 5. Google’s Nest Mini was the top-selling device overall in Q3 2021, at just over 5 million units, followed by Apple’s HomePod Mini, and then Amazon’s fourth-generation Echo Dot.
In the overall smart speaker and smart display market in Q2 2021, the leaderboard remained unchanged, with Amazon at No. 1 followed by Google, Baidu, Alibaba, and Apple, respectively. The gap between the top five and the rest of the market continued to expand as these companies dominate entry-level ($50 to $99) and ultra-low ($49 and less) price bands, with Apple’s surge powered by its HomePod Mini.
Consumer enthusiasm for technology products and services in the home is at an all-time high and annual spending is estimated to have increased by 17% in 2021. The Covid-19 pandemic has driven significant changes in consumer behavior when it comes to work, education, entertainment, and home management and these changes have led the adoption of digital devices and services.
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