Better Speech Recognition Boost Smart Home Speaker Market

Intelligent home speaker shipments reached 5.9 million units globally in 2016, according to Strategy Analytics, and will grow tenfold by 2022, driven by improved accuracy in speech recognition, new compelling use cases, and multilanguage support.

Amazon's Echo line of devices currently dominates the market, according to the report, but competition is set to intensify this year as Google Home enters its first full year of sales and other Wi-Fi speaker manufacturers begin to build microphones and access to the major virtual assistant platforms into their own products.

"Intelligent Home Speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home are a causing a wave of excitement among consumers," said David Watkins, director of connected home devices at Strategy Analytics, in a statement. "The promise of conversational, hands-free interaction with the Internet is a very compelling one; although the current crop of intelligent speakers has their obvious limitations, future iterations will solve many of the early frustrations and deliver a range of new use cases, such as voice calling, travel planning, and remote learning and healthcare services. Furthermore we expect advancements in voice biometrics and voice authentication will help ease privacy concerns and make the devices more adaptable to multiuser environments."

In spite of the strong growth forecast, Strategy Analytics cautions that adoption of intelligent home speakers will depend on the integration of localized services with the relevant voice platform as well as near-human levels of accuracy in terms of speech recognition and contextual understanding. Cost, however, is expected to be less of a barrier to entry.

"The low cost of intelligent speakers, such as Amazon's $50 Dot, is leading to impulse purchasing from consumers that will help drive adoption of the technology well beyond the tech-savvy gadget lover," said Bill Ablondi, director of Strategy Analytics' smart home strategies program, in a statement. "However, new compelling use cases must emerge to ensure that these devices do not end up collecting dust after an initial period of experimentation."

Other findings from the report include the following:

  • The value of the intelligent home speaker market will exceed $1.5 billion in 2017 and reach $5.5 billion by 2022.
  • 7 percent of North American homes will own an intelligent home speaker by the end of 2017, rising to 33 percent by 2022.
  • Language limitations of speech recognition software, as well as issues surrounding localization of services, will mean that uptake in other regions will lag behind North America, with ownership of intelligent speakers in Western Europe reaching nearly 15 percent by 2022.

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