Amazon Continues to Lead the Smart Speaker Market

Voice-activated digital assistants and “smart speakers” continue to dominate the consumer sphere; if you’re an app builder or developer, you’re probably wondering how you can monetize these platforms—and which ones you should target.

Some new data from Kantar offers insight into which platforms are the most popular. In what should come as no surprise to anyone following the category, Amazon-based devices tend to dominate, with 66 percent of the overall market, followed by Google with 30 percent. Kantar estimates that 34 percent of Americans own a smart speaker, which attests to the viability of the concept.

Playing music (or podcasts or books) is the most popular use of smart speakers, followed by practical actions such as setting times, checking the weather, or looking up information. Consumers tend to use the devices far less for ordering food or products. “Voice search queries are 30 times more likely to be action-oriented than typed queries, meaning businesses have an ideal opening to recommend their services to the search user,” Gaelle Bertrand, Head of Brand Insight and Social Media Intelligence at Kantar Media, is quoted as saying in the report accompanying the data.

A few things bear mentioning here. First, Kantar’s survey doesn’t take Apple’s HomePod into account. Although the HomePod is relatively new to the market (it arrived on February 9), it does enjoy the full heft of Apple’s marketing muscle, meaning that it can potentially carve out a not-insignificant portion of the smart-speaker market in fairly quick order.

In other words, although it’s clear at this juncture that Amazon’s Alexa platform dominates the category, things could change—it’s still very early days for this technology. If you’re interested in developing for Alexa devices, you can create “skills,” which are mini-applications activated by the use of the phrase “Alexa.” There are currently seven categories of Alexa skills, including music, productivity, and health; developers can make money, for example, by building quiz games that draw user engagement.

Google Home also offers developers the ability to build user interactions. These “Actions” are broad, covering everything from product transactions to trivia games. Google has a dedicated webpage for “Actions on Google.”

And if you’re a developer who wants to bet on Apple, programming for HomePod hinges on SiriKit, which enables iOS and watchOS apps to work with Siri.

Whichever option you choose, take comfort in the fact that smart speakers seem like a category on the rise, even if the monetization aspect doesn’t seem to have solidified quite yet.

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