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smart speakers

For the love of smart speakers

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The love of smart speakers is permeating the world, as more and more people are introducing these devices into their homes for various reasons—to listen to their favorite tunes, search for real-time and factual information, listen to news, chat with the voice assistant for fun (I mean, it’s pretty cool to play trivia with Alexa!), and use alarms and timers, and more. So, to do all these activities, what are people looking for in a smart speaker?

After surveying more than 13 percent of Internet users with smart speakers in their households in November 2018, from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, IHS Markit found:

•    27 percent said the most important feature is “integration with services and devices;
•    25 percent said a “questions and answers” feature; and
•    24 percent indicated “sound quality.”

Of the respondents with access to smart speakers powered by Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, they were more likely to rate integration as the most important feature because they positioned their digital assistants as smart home hubs, primarily because both platforms leverage their own entertainment offerings, such as audiobooks and streaming music.

Fateha Begum, associate director, IHS Markit, revealed the following information from the survey in an announcement:

•    Sound quality and integration is usually equally important among consumers, especially for those with Bose, JBL, Link, Panasonic, Sony and other traditional audio brands.
•    Smart speaker households in India and Brazil selected sound quality as the most important factor.
•    Amazon Echo and Google Home owners said answering questions was top of their list.

Across all markets surveyed, it seems Amazon Echo is making a bigger splash among households. Those owning Amazon Echo devices were more likely to have multiple devices and on average, 21 percent accessed two Echo speakers with 15 percent accessing three or more speakers. Only 15 percent of Google Home owners had access to two Google speakers with an additional 15 percent accessing three or more speakers.

In my opinion, the key takeaway from this survey was stated by Maria Rua Aguete, executive director, IHS Markit, “Operators now understand the importance of having their own digital assistants, to maintain and control the customer experience and network usage.”

As the semi-proud new owner of an Echo Show, 2nd Generation, I enjoy Alexa for the little things—playing games and listening to music, and I appreciate the concept and lure of smart speakers and AI, but for me, and maybe it’s my undeniably strong Texas accent, Alexa just doesn’t understand me! 

For more research on the smart speaker craze, click here.
 

In the home, voice is king

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The success of smart home assistants such as Amazon Alexa has spurred the growth of smart speakers within the home, as voice control in the home seems to be a trend that is not going away any time soon.

In fact, the adoption of these devices increased by 800 percent from 2016 to 2018, reaching nearly one-third of U.S. broadband households by the end of 2018, according to research by Parks Associates.

In the firm’s “Strategies for Integrating Voice in the Smart Home,” report, it estimates U.S. households will buy more than 64 million smart speakers with voice assistants in 2022. The research profiles key technology partners that can help companies integrate voice and evaluates different strategies for implementation.

“Voice is emerging as a key complement to smart home device adoption and ownership, as it provides a simple method of interaction and creates opportunities for a centralized user interface and interoperability among multiple devices,” Dina Abdelrazik, research analyst, Parks Associates, said in the announcement. “The next step will be integration of voice among multiple device categories, which will help to alleviate smart home fragmentation.”

Use of voice in conjunction with smart home devices is increasing. The report finds 21 percent of smart homeowners have used voice to turn their devices on/off, while 18 percent have used voice to check a device’s status. With voice popularity and use cases expanding, device makers and service providers are looking to capitalize on the current market opportunity by integrating a voice experience with their current offerings. The first decision a company must make before doing so is to decide whether to create its own proprietary solution or to integrate with a readily available  solution.

“Major tech giants have entered the voice-first market providing companies with the opportunity to leverage their voice-based solutions, with Amazon and Google leading the market,” Abdelrazik said. “They have made it easier for companies to enable voice-based solutions while creating competition for consumer mindshare, with Apple, Samsung and Harman Kardon promoting their own solutions in an increasingly crowded market. This diversity gives companies more choices when considering partnerships or whether to develop their own proprietary in-house solution.”

Parks Associates will host CONNECTIONS: The Premier Connected Home Conference on May 21-23, 2019, in San Francisco, where analysts and IoT executives will examine the impact of voice along with other solutions in shaping demand, adoption, and new business strategies within the smart home  ecosystem.

Further validating the growth of smart speakers, IHS Markit recently released its report on this growing trend.