Smart speaker installed base could top 200 million this year

By

HomePod Volume Controls
Perhaps a rising tide of smart speaker sales will help HomePod.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The number of smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s HomePod in use around the world is expected to keep growing strongly for years to come. It could pass 200 million in 2019, and pass 500 million in 2023.

Analysts from Canalys indicate the installed base of these devices is now surpassing the number of smartwatches in use. And smart speakers could even outnumber tablets before the end of 2021, they say.

“The growing installed base of smart speakers is an opportunity to create new business models and to drive profit beyond music and audio content streaming services,” said Jason Low, a Canalys senior analyst. “Smart assistants are becoming a conduit to offer services, such as assisted living, healthcare and government services.”

The U.S. is expected to maintain its lead in smart speaker adoption, accounting for 42.2% of the global installed base by the end of this year.

HomePod has potential

Apple has just a small percentage of the smart speaker market. It sold 1.6 million HomePods in Q4 of 2018 (the most recent figures available). By comparison, Amazon sold 13.7 million units, according to Strategy Analytics. Still, HomePod sales grew 45 percent year over year.

Apple recently lowered the HomePod’s price in the United States and several other countries. Apple’s smart speaker now lists for $299 — a full $50 less than its original price. This could help HomePod compete better in the U.S. market, which Canalys predicts will grow 46 percent this year.