At a hardware event yesterday, Amazon introduced a number of updated or new Echo devices and a range of appliances with Alexa integrated. There are three categories of devices now: Echo devices, Echo companion devices and new Alexa-powered smart appliances. The latter include wall clocks, smart plugs, security cameras, an in-car audio device and more. It’s all part of Amazon’s bid to own the smart home.
The battle for share between Google and Amazon. Pick your metaphor: arms race, shelf space, cage match. Right now, it’s a battle between Google and Amazon to become the smart home controller and to sell a family of associated smart home appliances and products. And this holiday season will see aggressive competition between the two companies as almost everyone else (i.e., Samsung, Microsoft, Apple) remains on the sidelines.
Among the devices introduced yesterday were the following:
- New Echo Dot: $49.99.
- New Echo Show: $229.99. It has a 10-inch display and is intended to respond to Google’s smart display initiative.
- Echo Auto: a device to bring Alexa into the car, for those that won’t have it embedded in the car’s infotainment system.
- Echo Wall Clock: $29.99.
- Echo Sub: A sub-woofer for $129.99.
- AmazonBasics Microwave: A microwave that connects to Echo for $60.
- Amazon Smart Plug: $24.99.
Google Home outselling Echo. The new product launches come against the backdrop of Google making gains on Amazon’s smart speaker market share. For the second quarter in a row, Google Home has outsold Echo, according to hardware tracker Strategy Analytics. Last year, Amazon had roughly 70 to 75 percent of the smart speaker market. But its dominance is declining as Google Home Mini surges.
Why it matters to marketers. Smart speakers have yet to fulfill their promise as a marketing or commerce channel. But consumers continue to buy them. Third-party estimates assert there are 50 million smart speakers in the US. Eventually, the marketing and commerce use cases will be worked out.
Indeed, the two or three companies that control the smart home will have new marketing opportunities and, perhaps more importantly, access to massive volumes of new data on how consumers behave inside their homes. That will create new insights and marketing possibilities that have yet to be imagined — for better or worse.