Smart speakers, the devices to which we ask if we will have to bring an umbrella with us on the way out or if there is some other event scheduled for the day, are gradually conquering the market despite the hurdles caused by coronavirus.
They were born initially as speakers for listening to music and answering simple questions such as “What’s the weather like today?”. Now they are real digital helpers able to perform (and make perform) more complex actions, which will make you think (at least to those born in the 90s) to live in an episode of the animated sitcom set in the future The Jetsons. By connecting to other smart appliances equipped with wifi connection, smart speakers can turn lights on/off, start the washing machine or lower the temperature in the room. These are only some of the activities that they can do. They are small devices with a futuristic design that facilitate the carrying out of home and/or office activities, making them more and more essential. And numbers confirm it.
According to research company Canalys’ estimates, there will be 320 million smart speakers in use in 2020, a figure set to grow in 2021 when sales are expected to increase by 21%, reaching 163 million shipments in the next year. China is leading the sector, having managed to keep the Coronavirus pandemic at bay, it will already register a 16% growth in 2020, compared to only a 3% growth in other countries. Analysts believe that by spending more time at home, people will tend to buy new smart speakers or replace older ones. For this reason, it is estimated that by 2024 the smart speakers active all over the world will reach 640 million, with two thirds of the market split between China and the United States. Canalys’ head of research believes that the success of the devices has to do with the manufacturers’ ability to make significant improvements and innovations without a major increase in costs.
The main manufacturing companies are Amazon, Google and Apple. As for the West, at the top of the list we find Amazon’s Alexa, with devices ranging from 50 to 250 euros; followed by Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri.
The latest additions to the industry, expected to be the star of this year’s Christmas gifts, include: Amazon Echo 4th generation with a completely revised design, a superior sound system and the same price of its predecessors and HomePod Mini presented by the Cupertino company during the launch event last October.