Amazon and Google have big lead as Apple prepares to bring HomePod assistant to market

Virtual-assistance devices are popping up in homes at an astounding rate, new research indicates.

Between Amazon with its Echo and Google with its Home, 7 million more devices went into operation across the U.S. in just the third quarter of this year, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners reported Nov. 6. That pushed the number of virtual assistants installed in the country to 27 million, with about 20 million of them from Amazon and 7 million from Google.

“Only one year ago, the entire market consisted of 5 million Amazon Echo units,” CIRP partner Josh Lowitz said in a press release.

“With very aggressive promotion and rapidly growing customer interest, the market for these devices has more than tripled and seems to be in its early stages.”

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The devices contain virtual assistants — artificial intelligence-boosted software that can perform tasks for the user — called “Alexa” in Amazon’s and “Assistant” in Google’s. The companies are banking on growth of the so-called internet-of-things in U.S. residences, with virtual assistants eventually acting as voice-operated controllers for everything in a home.

Amazon still holds three-quarters of the market for the assistants, but in the past quarter Google gained by one percentage point, the CIRP report indicated.

“Given the blistering pace of new product introductions, and how each has kept up with the other in terms of features and pricing, we expect they will continue to split the market this way, at least until other manufacturers bring their new offerings to the marketplace,” Lowitz said.

Analysts and consumers are awaiting Apple’s entry, with the $350 HomePod device the iPhone maker said will become available in December.

“On the one hand, the market is very new and growing rapidly, so there should be room,” Lowitz said.

“On the other hand, Amazon and Google have a huge head start in establishing their home automation operating platforms.”

Apple’s assistant will be more expensive than most offerings from its rivals. Amazon’s Echo devices range in price from $50 to $230. Google has a $50 Home Mini and a $129 Home, but also sells the Home Max, for $400.

 

 

Photo: People visit the new Google pop-up shop in the SoHo neighborhood on October 20, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

 

 

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  • Jack Smith

    Will be curious if the new Apple Homepod uses commands like the Echo or it will support natural language like the Google Home.

    We had a Echo since late 2014 and now several Google Homes and able to use natural language versus the commands with the Echo makes a pretty big difference.

 
 
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