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Global Smart Speaker Sales To Hit $3.5 Billion By 2021

Gartner’s latest research has tipped global spending on ‘smart speakers’ (i.e. virtual personal assistant [VPA] enabled wireless speakers) to hit $3.52 billion by 2021.

Research Director at Gartner, Werner Goertz, states there will be a temporary slowing of growth in 2018, as a suite of other products – lighting systems, hubs and Wi-Fi mesh devices – begin to adopt VPA functionality.

Goertz notes the developing trend to create a ‘connected smart home’ and remarks:

“The market for VPA-enabled wireless speakers, such as the Amazon Echo devices and Google Home, is expanding rapidly with more vendors, device types and use cases”.

Gartner anticipates that from 2019, the 3rd generation of smart speakers will include some artificial intelligence features running directly on the device, instead of in the cloud.

It is expected that the future AI-enabled smart speakers will use edge-device machine learning capabilities to “enhance latency, alleviate privacy/security issues and use bandwidth more efficiently”.

Smart Speakers in The World of Enterprise

Currently thought of as a consumer device, Gartner expects rising enterprise adoption of smart speakers from 2019. The first industries will likely be hospitality and healthcare, which is likely to drive market growth via the development of specialist devices.

The retail industry will likely follow in 2020:

“Specialist VPA speakers with custom-made hardware and software configurations will roll out in the retail sector in 2020 and beyond. New self-service, voice-based shopping and payment experiences will be enabled, reducing friction in the bricks-and-mortar as well as e-commerce shopping environments”, states Gartner Research Director, Ranjit Atwal.

Privacy Concerns

While Gartner states there is little technical merit to privacy concerns surrounding smart speakers, it acknowledges the current ‘market psychology’ surrounding the matter as an obstacle.

However, it is expected that by 2020, such privacy concerns will largely be lifted (as a proportion of the overall consumer market) through the use of educational efforts, peer adoption, and regulatory approvals.

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