It’s often been asked as to who will control the smarthouse market going forward, while Microsoft and their Windows OS has the lion’s share of the PC market today, it’s Google and Amazon whose voice technology is fast becoming the dominant control technology in the home.
Often this comes via a new generation of wireless speakers and products such as the new $39 Echo Dot, or the 10” Echo Show that was recently launched by Amazon, along with an expanded Echo speaker range that can multitask as audio speakers while being able to process voice commands for home automation.
Worldwide Amazon’s Echo speaker are by far the most popular smart speakers – making up for 70% of devices – and will continue to dominate the market throughout 2021, according to a new smart speaker user report from eMarketer.
The unlock to future smarthouse management is the combination of voice intelligence and functionality, with voice commands now becoming front and centre of the home.
Low-cost speakers that can be located around the home are now available via retailers such as JB Hi Fi and The Good Guys as well as via the Amazon web site.
One person who was around during the explosive growth in demand for PC’s and notebooks was Kate Burleigh the former CEO of Intel.
Now Burleigh is driving the growth of smarts for the home as Country Manager, Amazon Alexa and Devices, Australia/New Zealand.
Growth of this technology is booming and as far as Burleigh is concerned there is room for multiple brands and competitors to co-exist a classic example is Arlo a core competitor of Ring which is owned by Amazon.
Both brands now rely on Amazon Alexa and Google Voice commands to deliver functionality.
The Echo range of speakers are seen by analysts as being “extremly well made and high quality” despite the low-price points, some say this is because Amazon wants to drive consumers to their Amazon Music and Amazon Prime Video services as well as the Amazon web site which has witnessed “significant growth” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amazon started the trend for voice-activated devices, with the US market taking to the Amazon technology where their technology still dominates today.
In Australia It was Google due in part to their dominance of the smartphone market who got in first with a range of voice activated network speakers that are primarily designed to drive consumers to shop online at locations that buy advertising from Google.
Globally Amazon is being praised for the quality of even their smallest speakers BBC Music’s audio expert Chris Haslam said recently “I’m genuinely impressed by the sound the (4th generation Amazon Echo’s 13-by-14cm cloth-covered ball produces. The 76mm woofer and twin 20mm tweeters, despite the obvious size restrictions, manage to be impactful, organised and enjoyable.
One problem across both platforms is the Australian accent with Burleigh revealing that a lot of work is currently going on behind the scenes to manage the multicultural linguistics of Australians.
“We are not only working on accents we are working on understanding Australian terminology and colloquialism”.
Amazon is also working with third parties such as Qantas, Banks and NSW Transport to deliver new service capabilities along with a multitude of radio stations via the Amazon Alexa App or the Echo speakers.
Around the world brands are building Alexa into their products from security Companies to blind and air conditioning makers.
Lighting control and audio Companies are just two industries that are now turning to Alexa and Google as the common means by which consumers can easily issue commands to a device or service.
According to Burleigh they are also taking notice of “failed” requests for information with the Companies ‘Friction Reports’ identifying problem voice commands.
These reports claim Burleigh, allows Amazon to improve the functionality of their system while also fine tuning the pronunciation of the voice command.
One thing that Burleigh is well aware of is that once a consumer buys their first device, they’re not as likely to change brands for their next one.
Instead, the first device gives the company — like Amazon — a foot in the door to prove their smart speaker’s usefulness which in Australia is growing with the introduction of new Alexa services.
Research shows that when a customer is readying to expand by adding a new device for the bedroom or kitchen, they typically return to buy the same brand again as devices are designed to work together across the home.
Amazon is keenly aware of this trend and has been practically giving away its entry-level device, the Echo Dot.
The low-end device is currently selling at Amazon and JB hi Fi for $39 and is often found on sale.
“The quality and functionality is amazing,” said Burleigh.
Analysts are tipping that the voice and networked speaker market is set to double over the next three years in Australia and that as demand grows so will the functionality.