Within the vast scenario of the Internet of Things (IoT), the Smart Home is one of the areas of greatest clamor and that is raising company’s interest. Looking at the Italian context, which shows a continuously growing market (+23% in 2016 according to data from the Internet of Things Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano), and further, with an international perspective, many new events have been registered over the last months.
The development of great partnerships and alliances (such as the OCF – Open Connectivity Foundation – with the participation of over 300 companies), stronger presence of new sales channels that multiply purchasing opportunities (for example multichannel retailers, utilities, telcos) and the market launch of new products and services at prices accessible to a large part of consumers.
Among the main trends that over recent months are becoming more popular is without question the growing spread of so called Smart Home speakers, or “intelligent” voice controlled assistants. These are actual hubs – equipped with speakers, microphones, displays and a processor that makes them smart – developed to reduce the complexity of connecting and managing multiple heterogeneous intelligent objects within the home. These new “intelligent” devices are destined to become increasingly important in managing connected objects within a Smart Home. This view is supported by the findings of some recent investigations. For example, Strategy Analytics forecasts the Smart Home global speaker market will reach the 5.5 billion dollar mark by 2022, Global Market Insight goes even further estimating a 13 billion dollar market by 2024, while Park Associates estimates an adoption rate growth of 140%.
A market of such figures can appeal to many players and in fact the large multinational corporations are not wasting any time. Everything would lead to believe that over upcoming months the battle to gain ascendancy of living rooms in houses all over the world will be more heated. In addition to the well-known Google Home and Amazon Echo (the devices launched by Google and Amazon some months ago that rely on the voice controlled assistants, respectively Google Assistant and Alexa), many other big players are starting to enter this market. Like Apple, for example, that at the latest Worldwide Developer Conference introduced the HomePod, obviously controlled by the by now familiar Siri. Xiaomi recently launched its speaker Xiaomi Mi AI, inexpensive and targeted mainly to the mass market. Harman, in collaboration with Microsoft, announced Invoke, to be released in October and equipped with Cortana. Samsung and Facebook are working on new voice controlled assistants, to be launched presumably in 2018.
The Smart Home speaker battle therefore has just begun: simplicity, compatibility with the various types of connected objects and valorization of the collected data are some of the key points to achieving success in this market.