Apple HomePod Gains Market Share. Is That Good for Developers?

As the smart speaker market matures, Apple is making small but steady gains in market share, according to a new report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP). Specifically, Apple’s HomePod had 6 percent of the market in June, doubling its share since March.

But Apple has a long way to go before it catches up to the Amazon Echo and Google Home, which control 70 percent and 24 percent of the smart speaker market, respectively.

As CIRP points out, Amazon and Google have certain inherent advantages in this market. For starters, they offer devices at a far lower price-point than the HomePod, which retails for $349. Second, Apple is a relatively new entrant to the scene, while Amazon and Google have spent quite some time marketing and refining their products. Third, Amazon and Google have attempted to make their respective platforms as welcoming as possible—for example, Google Home is compatible with Spotify in addition to Google’s homegrown music service.

The HomePod, on the other hand, is aimed at the upper levels of the home-audio market, and its onboard software is bonded tightly with Apple services such as Siri (the company’s voice-activated digital assistant) and Apple Music. Dice’s review of the device, back in February, suggested it was “a sensational speaker,” positioned more to compete with Sonos and Bose than Amazon’s speaker offerings.

For developers interested in building for HomePod, market studies like this present some good news: although the market for Apple’s speaker remains relatively small, the device hasn’t been crushed by competition from Amazon and Google.

But the actions developers can take with HomePod remain relatively limited, and queries are usually handed off to a linked iOS device, such as an iPhone or iPad. Specifically, SiriKit Messaging, Notes, and Lists are the only things that developers can influence on HomePod. Contrast that with Alexa, for example, which gives developers the chance to build everything from “skills” to voice-activated games.

Granted, the lack of a screen makes product development difficult, but developers surely will find even more uses for these “smart speakers” in the years ahead. If Apple wants to increase its market share, it will need to figure out how to give those creators the tools they need.

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