New estimates published yesterday peg Amazon Echo smart speaker shipments at 30% of the overall global market in Q2 2018. Strategy Analytics proffers that the Echo Dot represented 18% of overall shipments, with the Echo representing 12%.
Meanwhile, estimates peg Google devices as taking 27% of the market, with Google Home Mini representing 20% (larger than the Echo Dot) and Google Home taking 7%. They pegged Alibaba’s Tmall Genie at another 7%, with the rest of the market taking 36%.
This is a race for the future of controlling home automation systems. We view the deployment of smart speakers into homes and cars as highly strategic for both Amazon and Google. Smart speaker shipment volume is as much about distribution channels as it is services. Amazon and Google are both investing extremely heavily in the AI and ML to power more sophisticated services that these devices are a primary interface to.
A day after reports that Amazon is working on several new Alexa-enabled devices, new additions to the Amazon smart home lineup of products have been apparently inadvertently posted and removed from Amazon’s UK store.
The first, Amazon Smart Plug, “works with Alexa to add voice control to any electrical socket,” per Pocket-lint. However, somewhat oddly, the price is listed at £95.00, which is several times higher than that of other smart plugs on the market today. We’d be surprised if it launched at that price.
The second, Amazon Echo Sub, is designed to be paired with another Echo device to achieve “down-firing, 100W deep bass sound through a 6″ woofer,” or two Echo devices “for rich left/right stereo sound,” per Pocket-lint. It is listed for sale at £75.00, which seems more reasonable.
- Both are holes in the existing lineup of devices Amazon offers. In the smart home category, one could see Amazon getting into additional home controls like switches. In the audio category, Amazon could certainly improve the fidelity of the sound its devices produce for people who are sensitive to sound quality. Both products will pose challenges to competitors in these spaces.
Audi launched a new electric SUV last night called the e-tron. As part of the announcement, Audi also announced a home charging system installation partnership with Amazon. Per Reuters:
Audi will partner with online retailer Amazon to sell and install home electric vehicle charging systems to buyers of the e-tron, the companies said on Monday. Amazon will deliver the hardware and hire electricians to install them through its Amazon Home Services operation.
Amazon’s partnership with Audi to provide home charging systems is the first time the online retailer has struck such a deal with an automaker, and signals a new front in Amazon’s drive to expand its reach into consumers’ homes beyond the presence of its Alexa smart speakers in living rooms and kitchens.
“We see charging installation as a very important business,” Pat Bigatel, director of Amazon Home Services, told Reuters at Audi’s launch event in San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Center.
We believe Amazon Home Services is a strategic priority for Amazon since it plays a crucial role in helping Amazon accelerate its efforts to become an ingrained part of home utility and supply chain systems. Electrical systems are a core component of that effort, and car charging is a core component of electrical systems. We would expect to see more partnerships of this nature going forward.
CNBC’s Eugene Kim just posted a report that Amazon is reportedly working on new Alexa-enabled devices for the home and car, including a microwave. Per Kim:
Amazon is doubling down on its Alexa-powered devices, with plans to release at least 8 new voice-controlled hardware devices before the end of the year, CNBC has learned.
The devices include, among others, a microwave oven, an amplifier, a receiver, a subwoofer, and an in-car gadget, people familiar with the matter said.
- We believe home appliances will be a major area of emphasis for Amazon as it increasingly builds out its home automation ecosystem. Amazon already makes a variety of Alexa-enabled hardware devices for the home, and is expanding into home automation and security through its Ring and Blink acquisitions. Currently, GE sells an Alexa-enabled microwave on Amazon, but Amazon should be able to achieve more seamless integration by building it directly.
- We also believe that car appliances will be a major area of emphasis for Amazon. Logistically, there is so much opportunity in the car for voice-powered services to thrive.
- Improving its lineup of smart audio hardware offerings also makes sense for Amazon. Currently, that need is filled by firms like Sonos, which sells the Alexa-enabled Sonos One. Amazon has not exactly targeted audiophiles with its current lineup of Echo devices.
- Amazon is also working with home building partners to create “Amazon Experience Centers” – model homes with Alexa integrations (currently in US with Lennar and India with Embassy Edge). There could be an opportunity to sell homes stacked with Amazon goods that would create higher barriers to switching for homebuyers and give Amazon large B2B sales channels.