It’s been a while since we’ve had some big-figure predictions for the smart speakers market, but here’s research firm Canalys hoving into view with its latest forecasts. It reckons that 163m smart speakers will be shipped in 2021, which would be year-on-year growth (from its estimates for 2020) of 21%.
Speakers using Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant are expected to account for the bulk of shipments globally except China, where local tech companies’ voice assistants are in command. This is all for new shipments, but Canalys also has some new numbers for the install base – those already owned and in use. That total will be 320m this year, with the company predicting that it will double to 640 million by 2024.
The predictions come at a time when a round of new devices are set to scrap it out for the lucrative pre-Christmas season. Amazon recently unveiled its latest Echo speakers; Google has a new Nest Audio; and Apple is getting into the sub-$100 market with its new HomePod Mini.
Meanwhile, the market for smart speakers in China is growing apace thanks to the efforts of Baidu, Alibaba and Xiaomi. Baidu’s division focusing on smart devices and voice assistants was recently valued at $2.9bn on the back of the growth there.
This is all highly relevant for the music industry, with smart speakers having grown in usage during the Covid-19 lockdowns around the world, as people spent more time in their homes. It means that the music features of these devices (and the arguments over which services have access to which features, when those devices are made by their rivals) carry even more weight for the music business.