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Google beats Amazon to first place in smart speaker market • Canalys
<p>Smart speakers continue to be the world’s fastest-growing consumer technology segment, with year-on-year growth in Q1 2018 of 210% as shipments reached 9m units. Google took the top spot, beating Amazon for the first time, shipping 3.2m of its Google Home and Home Mini devices, against the 2.5m Echo devices shipped by Amazon. The US market share fell below 50% for the first time, partly due to Google and Amazon’s focus on expanding beyond their home markets, but also because of the increased traction that the technology is seeing with new vendors in markets such as China and South Korea.

Vendors shipped 1.8m smart speakers into the channel in Q1 2018 in China, while Korea overtook the UK to become the third largest market with 730,000 shipments.

Alibaba finished third overall and retained its number one position in China with 1.1 million Tmall Genie speaker shipments in Q1 2018… China’s smart speaker market is growing, with shipments up sequentially by more than 60%. Xiaomi, whose main business is selling smartphones, shipped over 600,000 of its Xiao AI speakers to China in Q1, coming a distant second after Alibaba’s Tmall Genie. “Awareness of smart speakers and their uses is growing steadily among Chinese consumers. But competition is building quickly for Alibaba, as IPO-hopeful Xiaomi takes to the smart speaker segment with much vigor in 2018.”</p>

Apple's HomePod went on sale in February; doesn't make the top five on Canalys's reckoning. Strategy Analytics, another research company, <a href="'s-Global-Smart-Speaker-Share/">has its own analysis</a> which gives Amazon 4m, Google. 2.4m, Alibaba 0.7m and Apple 0.6m. Neil Cybart, of Above Avalon, reckons Apple sold between 0.5m and 1.0m HomePods.

So one has Google on top and Apple nowhere, another has Amazon on top and Apple somewhere. Be lovely if these companies provided some clear figures sometime.
amazon  google  apple  homepod  voice  alexa 
19 hours ago by charlesarthur
Privacy guide: Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod • NYMag
Kaveh Waddell:
<p>Connecting a home speaker to third-party extensions is also potentially a recipe for abuse. It was a third-party quiz app that vacuumed up Facebook users’ personal data — and that of their friends — and shared it with a researcher associated with Cambridge Analytica. There’s no reason an unscrupulous developer couldn’t come up with a similarly invasive add-on for a home speaker. Both Google and Amazon allow developers to create extensions for their home speakers, but the Echo, having been around longer, has more plug-ins.

Apple is the odd one out in this trio: Its HomePod offers the most privacy of any home speaker — but at the cost of convenience. Besides using the HomePod to control Apple’s software or as a hub for an automated home, you can ask about the news, weather, or traffic — but not much else. You can’t install extensions the way you can on an Echo or a Google Home, so Apple has complete control over what data goes where.

But the biggest privacy difference between the HomePod and its competitors isn’t what it can or can’t do — it’s how the HomePod interacts with Apple’s servers. Like the other speakers, when a HomePod hears a request, it sends it off to Apple to parse and fulfill it. But instead of associating the request with the user’s account, like Google and Amazon do, HomePod requests are anonymous, tied only to a random, rotating ID. Just like a request you might make of Siri on an iPhone, HomePod requests will live on Apple’s servers for six months, associated with that ID, and then another year and a half, unlinked to any ID at all. By contrast, Google and Amazon only delete requests from their servers when asked by the user.

In the few months it’s been out, people have complained about one particular privacy shortfall of the HomePod. The HomePod can fulfill “personal requests,” like reading out and sending texts, or reading and creating notes. For someone who lives alone — or has no secrets — this might be useful. But otherwise, as long as the primary user is at home, anyone can walk up to the device and ask it to send an embarrassing text to mom, and it will. Unlike the Echo or the Google Home, HomePod can’t differentiate between people’s voices, so anyone’s request will go through.

But that’s a relatively small privacy gripe. Generally, if you value privacy (and sound quality) over omniscient assistance, Apple’s HomePod should be your go-to. Siri is leagues behind its competitors, but at least it doesn’t tattle.</p>
homepod  apple  google  alexa 
23 days ago by charlesarthur
The axes of HomePod evolution: don’t judge what you can’t yet see
“it’s important to bear in mind how every single Apple product tends to evolve: from MVP, aka minimal viable product, to thing that people buy by the million.”
mvp  apple  history  homepod  voice  design 
5 weeks ago by cote
HomePod: A practical review – The Sweet Setup
Homes filled with music are also filled with dancing, singing, and laughter, and using the voice assistant everywhere gives you convenience, utility, and a frictionless presence for interacting with your technology.
Mix both with a dash of quality and you get HomePod — an intriguing product for any Apple user.
homepod  review 
5 weeks ago by rgl7194
Apple’s stumbling HomePod isn’t the hot seller it wanted • Bloomberg
Mark Gurman:
<p>During the opening pre-order weekend, the HomePod grabbed 72% of revenue in the smart speaker category. But in February and March, its share of revenue slipped to 19%, according to Slice Intelligence, compared with 68% for Amazon. Google Home and Sonos Ones garnered 8% and 5% of revenues, respectively. (Slice estimated the sales by monitoring e-commerce receipts.)

Gene Munster, a co-founder of Loup Ventures and a long-time Apple watcher, expects HomePod sales to pick up in the holiday shopping season. He says Apple will probably sell 7 million HomePods this year and close to 11 million in 2019. By contrast, Munster predicts that Amazon will sell 29 million Echos this year and 39 million in 2019. Alphabet, he estimates, will move 18 million Google Homes in 2018 and about 32 million the following year.

The HomePod will almost certainly improve. Not every Apple product was a hit out of the gate. The Apple Watch faced challenges when it launched, too, and is now widely recognized as the top performing smartwatch on the market (although still a tiny part of its maker’s business).</p>

The HomePod bears some consideration. It's a really good speaker (pair it with an Apple TV and you have a soundbar for that output) but it isn't trying to be the things that the Echo range or Google Home range are. You can view that as a failure, on the basis that Amazon and Google have defined the category, or that it's most focussed on the thing people want a good speaker to do: play music.

But today I was also wondering about the inability of any Apple device to run two timers at once (something which Echo and Google Home devices do), and thinking there are some real blind spots in Apple's view of the world. Seven million is a good number of devices, but it's hard not to think that these devices are mutually exclusive.

(Neil Cybart, at Above Avalon, is pretty suspicious of the numbers; he thinks they overestimate Apple's expectations of initial sales, given the limited distribution at first, and also overestimate likely sales this year. He prefers 4m-5m.)
homepod  sales 
5 weeks ago by charlesarthur

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