Think about this question for a moment. “Are talking speakers really a thing?” And, by talking speakers I mean newfangled technology from Amazon and Google, Echo and Alexa vs. Google Home and Google Assistant.
I ask only because I care. Talking electronic devices have been around for awhile, but in the speaker arena it’s Amazon’s Echo that seems to have generated the most buzz, if not the most sales. For what it’s worth, Echo has been around for only a few years, Google’s Home only a few months, and, as always, Apple’s answer– HomePod– has been announced but the shipping date has slipped into 2018.
Are these talking speakers really a thing?
They’re relatively inexpensive, and each one does something a bit different than a competitor, and if your home is somewhat automated, could be convenient, but maybe Apple’s HomePod delay is because the market is not really mature. I mean, after all, how many of these devices have been sold since Echo’s debut two years ago in 2015?
If you hear crickets, it’s because nobody knows how many have sold. If you heard silence it’s for the same reason. None of these home speaker vendors is happy about their sales, otherwise, one of them would have announced something, right?
Remember, Apple’s iPod was very late to the portable media player market. What Apple did was wait patiently until it could make a better device, and that’s the direction the market went in 2001 until the iPhone debuted in 2007.
Even iPhone itself was not the first smartphone with a touchscreen. It was the first smartphone that was pleasant to use, and these days all smartphones look like iPhones. What does that tell you? Other than the fact that Apple announces how many iPhones it sells, and nobody else announces how many smartphones they sell.
Silence is golden.
Earlier this year Apple was considered behind the curve in augmented reality; so far behind it would never catch up. Who is in first place now? Apple’s HomePod Siri-based speaker is delayed until 2018 but does it matter? Are talking speakers really a thing?
Silence is golden.
Smart speaker makers won’t say how many have been sold so it’s up to the guesstimators to do what they do best. Guesstimate. And their numbers are all over the map and range from 5-million to 27-million. The latter number is a conservative guesstimate for how many Apple Watches have been sold to date, and at $450 or so a pop, Watch would seem to be a multi-billion dollar success. Not bad for an accessory, no?
Obviously, Amazon’s Echo devices have the first mover advantage– Echo, Dot, Tap, Look, Show, Spot, Plus, et al– but not much is known about units sold, revenue, or profit, or whether the market remains in its infancy or is just now taking off. Such markets tend to take off when Apple enters, so we’ll see if history repeats itself.
Apple tends to play a game of leapfrog, which it did with iPod, iPhone, iPad, Watch, AirPod, et al, so HomePod’s so-called delay likely has to do with software development more than hardware. Note the difference in price, too. Amazon’s Echo devices can be had for $50 to $230 while HomePod’s price tag comes in at $350, so it wouldn’t take much effort on Apple’s part to own the revenue and profit and mindshare segments of the talking speaker industry.
Are talking speakers really a thing?
Not yet. But soon. 2018, I’ll bet.