Smart audio hardware revenue is set to more than triple over the next four years, according to Juniper Research, rising from an estimated US$1.4 billion this year to over US$5.5 billion by 2020.While Juniper expects ear-based wearables to play their part in driving the market forward, it states that the category will be most successful in the smart home space, with smart audio devices such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home vying for market share.
Juniper found that home-based smart audio is dominant due to consumers not yet being willing to talk to machines in public, while similar functions can be provided by smartphones through simple earphones with a mic.
“These factors combine to limit the market for people who want a digital assistant device with them on-the-go,” Juniper observed.
“Home-based smart audio devices, however, operate in a private environment, overcoming the social reluctance, and do not have to challenge the smartphone to the same degree. For this reason, we expect more success from unit-based smart audio devices than hearables.”
Juniper states that there will be a smaller market for hearables offering various audio features, such as active noise cancellation and call handling, along with providing audio.
Among these types of devices, Juniper states that fitness devices will make up the biggest market, providing functions such as accurate biometrics and voice feedback from coaching software.
“Smart speakers win out because while they also need a context, their form factor gives them an almost universal one, while hearables fill specific audio niches,” research author James Moar commented.
“As a result, smart speakers and hearables will fill very different roles, despite relying on similar software capabilities in many cases.”