The big picture: Amazon's Echo devices and Alexa are nearly synonymous with the term "smart speaker." The latest figures from analyst firm, eMarketer, confirm that as nearly 70% of the smart speaker market belongs to Amazon. Google holds second place with around 38% while other brands, including Apple's HomePod, Sonos One, and Harmon Kardon Invoke bring up the rear collectively at 18%.
Amazon's early investment into smart speakers appears to be paying off as the company continues to hold a hefty lead in the smart speaker market. However, as the market matures, competitors are steadily gaining ground on Amazon.
“Since Amazon first introduced the Echo, it has built a convincing lead in the US and continues to beat back challenges from top competitors,” said Victoria Petrock, a principal analyst at eMarketer. “We had previously expected Google and Apple to make more inroads in this market, but Amazon has remained aggressive. By offering affordable devices and building out the number of Alexa skills, the company has maintained Echo’s appeal.”
This news isn't exactly a revelation. Amazon was the first one out of the gate with its Echo speakers. Since then, the company routinely puts their devices on sale to practically give them away. Amazon is also making almost anything into an Echo device including a smart ring and glasses. This strategy not only increases market share, but also mind share as consumers will typically think of Amazon when it comes to smart speakers. Increased market share also gives Amazon a "trojan horse" to sell its Prime subscription and services.
It isn't all great news for Amazon, however. While Amazon continues to dominate the smart speaker category, its market share has been trending downward since 2017 while all other brands have been moving upward. Though it seems that smart speaker adoption seems to be leveling out as Amazon and Google put their digital assistants, Alexa and Google Assistant respectively, in other products.
Earlier this year, Sonos filed suit against Google for allegedly stealing its speaker technology. Part of the litigation is frustration by Sonos executives for the way that Amazon and Google market their smart speakers. Customers are more likely to buy a $30-50 Echo Dot or Google Home Mini that sounds decent rather than spend $200 on better sounding Sonos speakers. Amazon also prominently displays its Echo products on the Amazon front page which gives it a distinct advantage over competing smart speakers that are sold on the Amazon storefront.