A new study by market research firm, Canalys, suggests that the global smart speaker market, including smart displays, will grow 21% next year to reach 163 million units. For the rest of this year, China is expected to continue leading the market with 16% growth, while the rest of the world, still reeling from COVID-19, is expected to grow at a measly 3%.
The growth driver this year will be the new models being released by various vendors ahead of the festive shopping season. Be that as it may, growth is still expected to remain relatively subdued this year, but the market is expected to emerge stronger in 2021, thanks to a more broad-based recovery worldwide.
According to Canalys Research Manager, Jason Low, smart speaker sales are going to be driven by improvements in sound quality and the improvements in AI algorithms. “The challenge is to bring noticeable improvements and innovation with minimal increase in costs. Amazon and Google are striving to spark interest by breaking the speaker mould, each taking different design routes aimed to obtain sound quality improvements, not only with physical design changes, but also introducing additional elements of computational audio. In the future, a customer’s listening experience will be increasingly adaptable and driven by AI”, he said.
Beyond the immediate future, Canalys says that it expects the global smart speaker market to reach 640 million by 2024. There is, however, a bit if a caveat to that forecast, because the the smart assistant ecosystem needs to be supported by third-party developers, hardware vendors, and service providers for the market to become mainstream. According to Low: “It is crucial for ecosystem partners to pay close attention to what platform vendors achieve, while having a keen sense to uncover new use cases as users shift habits amid the ongoing pandemic”.