HomePod will ‘gain traction’ in booming smart speaker market

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I sent the HomePod back, so I will keep using the single photo I took until somebody stops me.
HomePod is part of a growing product category.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The smart speaker market continues to explode — and Apple’s expected to carve out an ever-growing piece of it.

According to a new report published by IDC, the global smart speaker market will grow 26.9 percent in 2019. In total, the research firm thinks that 832.7 million total smart speakers will ship this year.

IDC notes that, while the market is currently dominated by Amazon and Google, Apple is expected to “gain traction.” It writes that:

“The existing popularity of iOS and macOS devices combined with the availability of Apple apps/services on non-Apple products will help the company slowly entice more consumers into their ecosystem while also attracting third parties to build compatible devices. Beyond Apple, Samsung is another company that is worth watching as its products extend into every category and the company continues to invest in Bixby and Tizen.”

Apple gaining momentum

Beyond services, it makes sense that Apple would benefit from a maturing smart speaker industry. Amazon and Google have dominated thanks to their early level sub-$50 devices such as the Echo Dot and Google Home Mini. To date, Apple has avoided following them with a low-cost speaker. That’s possibly due to the fact that the speaker quality is the main selling point of the HomePod.

However, as more customers get used to the idea of a smart speaker, they are likely to be willing to spend more money on it. This is what has happened with other growing categories, such as the average selling price of a smartphone. If people feel confident in the category, then a $349 HomePod suddenly seems far less of a risk. (Apple’s various discounts may help, too.)

“2018 was all about getting products into consumers’ homes and both Amazon and Google excelled at this through low-cost smart speakers and multiple bundles across device categories,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “However, 2019 will be more about tying the various devices together to form a more cohesive experience and more importantly, layering in additional services.”

Which smart speaker(s) do you own? Are you sold on these devices as a useful tech product? Let us know your thoughts below.