AI speakers competition...occupy the future consumer market
AI speakers competition...occupy the future consumer market
  • Koo Tae-eon Lawyer(
  • 승인 2019.02.26 08:01
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Lawyer Koo Tae-eon/TEK & LAW, CEO
Lawyer Koo Tae-eon/TEK & LAW, CEO


In the winter of 2014, Amazon launched a new product that could be an eye-catching. Amazon Echo is the artificial intelligence (AI) speech recognition speaker. As a person who is proud of an early adopter, I could not let it pass. After purchasing Amazon, I purchased eco in overseas summer vacation in 2015, which was sold to the general public, and installed it in the living room.

Although it has become popular in Korea now, AI speakers were no different from the new world at the time. Although it was impossible to utilize 100 percent of the devices because they were not supported in the U.S. and there were few devices that could be linked to Korea's Internet of Things (IoT) as they were only for the U.S., IoT is the first step of the internet. I cannot use 100% because there are few devices that can be interlocked. However, I felt like stepping into the fourth industrial revolution.

Amazon Echo is the first sample in which AI technology that felt far away came into our daily life. So far, AI programs have made news since it was AlphaGo or Watson, but in reality, there has been no chance for people to get close to reality. Although the current level of artificial intelligence is too much to describe, there is no difference that the emergence of Amazon's Echo is a stepping stone for our society to emerge as an era of AI. 

Amazon eco opens the era of AI speakers

The Amazon Echo is a cylindrical shape with a height of 23.5 cm. It looks like any other speaker. However, the device is equipped with Alexa, an ordinary intelligence voice serial program developed by Amazon.
When a user calls "Alexa," and then says "Turn on the music" or "Tell me the weather," Alexa, who recognizes the voice of seven micro users inside the speakers, automatically performs music playback and weather reading. Podcasts and Kindle apps can play streaming and listen to Audiobooks, and if you enter a payment in advance, you can also enjoy online shopping with a few words. If you link to a smart home device such as a door lock or electricity, you can lock the door or turn off the lights by simply talking to Alexa.

For traditional IT devices, it was possible to use the keyboard by typing the command director by clicking the icon on the touch screen. However, artificial intelligence voice secret service carries out orders when a user orders them. It is an innovative technology that completely exceeds the existing interface environment.
Just as Amazon Kindle has changed its way of reading e-books instead of reading them, Amazon Echo is pushing forward the era of smart home, which controls every device in the house with a few words instead of moving its body.

This is also evident in the usage patterns of Amazon's Echo users. Amazon surveyed 1,300 Echo users in 2016 after two years of the release of the Echo, which was used more than once. As a result, timer setting and music playback were the most common, followed by news reading. In the early days, if they stayed at the expense of playing music with words, over time, they are evolving beyond simple speakers into informers such as reading news and listening to e-books. It was around this time that competitors released similar products.

Encouraged by Amazon's success, Google launched Google Home in November

2016 with Google Assistant, it was an AI voice assistant program. Google Home's competitive edge was an accurate response rate. The voice cloud, which can distinguish about 2.3 trillion English words by gender, age, and intonation, provided the most appropriate answers to users' questions. In fact, according to a survey of voice recognition software released by ICT companies such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Assistant, and others in 2018, Google Assistant, most answered the questions were accurate.

Apple also introduced 'HomePod', a speaker with an AI voice assistant called Siri, in February 2018. HomePod was a huge hit with Apple's 'Maniac' with its unique design and superb sound quality. But it has failed to popularize. Compared to Amazon Echo (179 dollars) and Google Home (129 dollars), sales were poor because it was too expensive (349 dollars), “Siri, whose artificial intelligence does not distinguish with different voices, was poorly sold.

Facebook has released an artificial intelligence speaker that is equipped with its own AI voice assistant called 'M' in 2018. It can be used for a chat with a speaker through a Facebook chat program Messenger, and it is possible to have a video chat with a 15.6-inch touch screen and a camera.

Currently, markets for AI voice assistant speakers are the sole leaders of Amazon Echo. Although latecomer Google is aggressively targeting the search engine-based voice recognition as a weapon, it is not outperforming Amazon's preoccupation with the market two years earlier. According to market research, Kantar World Panel, the Amazon Echo Speakers Series had 66 percent of the U.S. market share as of March 2018, far behind second-ranked Google Home 30 percent. 

But the challenges of latecomers cannot stop. Even though Amazon seems to be a solo player, competitors are putting a lot of money into developing artificial intelligence voice secretary speakers and are launching new products ahead of them. The reason is that Companies dominating the market for artificial intelligence speakers will soon occupy the future consumer market.

Until now, the competitiveness of AI voice secretary speakers has been how well you can understand the user. At the launch of the Amazon ECO in 2014, it was all about recognizing short vocabulary, playing music, or reading the weather. But in just a few years, however, AI speakers have evolved dramatically. Voices alone can distinguish people from each other and complicated commands such as Internet shopping or bank transfer can be handled. Recently, it has moved away from a single device called speakers and has been advancing into an IoT hub that controls household appliances such as TVs and air conditioners. Now, artificial intelligence speakers are not just able to understand words, but how many devices they can control is becoming competitive.

For example, the Google Assistant, an AI voice secretary currently supports almost all smart home appliance brands in the United States. Smart devices that are compatible with Google Assistant have greatly increased from 1,500 in January 2018 to more than 5,000 in May. There are various kinds of smart TVs and refrigerators, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, air cleaners, ovens, dishwashers, security cameras, lighting devices, digital thermostats and switches.

Amazon ECO 'Alexa' is the number one in the industry and boasts the world's highest level of integration of smart home devices. As of May 2018, Alexa is freely compatible with 12,000 smart home devices that were released by 2,000 brands.  It's more than twice the size of Google Assistant.

China's counterattack is also significant. In August 2017, Alibaba released 'Tmall Genie' that is a speaker with AI voice assistant 'AliGenie'. More than 1 million units were sold during the Gwanggun Festival on November 11, 2017, and accumulated sales as of May 2018. The biggest strength of Timol Genie is the Internet of Things, which is linked to 45 million home appliances that surpass Amazon's Echo. TV, air conditioners, robot vacuum cleaners and so on. The artificial intelligence voice recognition speaker "Mi," released by Xiaomi in September 2017, also set a record of selling out in 23 seconds at a low price of 50,000 won (46 U.S. dollars). Xiaomi already has numerous types of home appliances in Chinese homes, so it has the best conditions to work with AI speakers. In fact, Xiaomi can control a variety of devices such as smart TVs and air conditioners, air purifiers and robot vacuum cleaners, and through an open-source platform, even products that are not partners are connected to Xiaomi speakers

It is no exaggeration to say that AI speakers are the most useful in the future. If you are already using a particular speaker, you will prefer the product that will be associated with that speaker when you purchase an electric device in the future. If you are concerned about which speakers to use, you should prioritize the products that are most connected to your existing home appliances. In any case, speakers with high Internet scalability are likely to be chosen. This is the reason why China's Alibaba and Xiaomi are dominating markets as much as Amazon and Google despite being latecomers.

Here is not the end. It is shopping where artificial intelligent speakers who have occupied a smart home with the Internet will concentrate their efforts. The artificial intelligent speaker, which accumulates data in real time about the purchase of grocery products and the products of a certain brand at a certain period, will take a step of recommending the goods to be liked by the user by inserting an order book by taking into consideration the purchase period of the daily necessities. It is a taste snooping service indeed.

Generally, people will prefer the best-performing products because they will not necessarily use more than one AI speaker of the same function. As the period of use increases, data about me will accumulate, and personalized services will be provided so that AI does not make any sense. At that time, even if the artificial intelligent speaker intentionally recommends its own or partner products, it is very unlikely that users who are already addicted to extreme convenience and taste sniping services will reject it. The result is the dominance of the consumer market. People will buy most of the items through AI speakers instead of Internet shopping malls or smartphone apps, which mean AI speakers with the most users, will soon become the biggest e-commerce platform.

That's why major U.S. retailers such as Amazon's rivals Wal-Mart and Costco recently formed a partnership with Google. It seems that Samsung Electronics is planning to check out AI speaker consumption market through Google Home against Amazon, the world's largest e-commerce company. The combination of the largest platform company Google and Wal-Mart with the largest distribution network proves that the future consumer market will depend on artificial intelligence speakers.

Global market research company Strategy Analytics predicted that the global artificial intelligence speaker market, which is worth 1.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, will grow rapidly to 5.5 billion dollars in 2022. However, this is just a consideration of the sales volume of AI speakers, and if this includes the market for electronic devices and e-commerce that are linked to AI speakers, it will be far beyond our imagination.

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