So it is now official. Apple has launched a Siri-powered product, called HomePod, to rival Amazon Echo and Google Home. Unveiled tonight during WWDC, the device offers control of your HomeKit enabled products, Siri’s new musicologist abilities, and spatial awareness for a much-improved music listening experience.
All three of these players have considerable marketing budgets and resources at their disposal to make a big impact and the battle to control the market for intelligent/voice activated home speakers within the smart home will be interesting to watch. But as well as providing tech journalists with no shortage of news stories, having three major household brands compete within the space is great for the smart home market overall.
These three tech giants will generate demand as well as familiarity with the value proposition of a smart home through their marketing. Analyst firm Parks Associates claim that only one-third of US consumers are familiar with smart home devices, so there is plenty of growth potential. This will undoubtedly create more demand for other smart home products as consumers see the benefits that they could enjoy by introducing technology throughout their homes. The smart home is not a single product. Instead, it is a network of different devices, all aimed at different consumers and different price points. According to Parks Associates, at the recent Connections conference that we attended, smart speakers with personal assistants serve as smart home enablers with 62% of owners having another smart home device. Only 21% of those without a smart speaker own another smart home device.
And for Audio Analytic, what happens next is the most exciting bit. We sell our sound recognition software into consumer tech companies making these next-gen products, so an increased spotlight and an increased demand from consumers drives product innovation.
The smart home market is still very much in its first generation: the connected home. We see the development of a new generation where the products are connected AND intelligent, automatically responding to what is happening them and better helping us.
So Apple’s announcement means more competition, more demand, more familiarity and more innovation. And that can’t be a bad thing.