Smart speaker wars — who will be next and who will win

Photo by William Bayreuther on Unsplash

Rumours, Rumours, Rumours are filling the audio world that everyone is trying to get a smart speaker out in 2018 with the aim to dominate/control the home experience.

This is all reminiscent of the 90s/00s console wars seeing PlayStation, Sega, Nintendo and Xbox fight it out.


Spotify

A speaker from Spotify makes sense, recent job postings of hardware positions leads us to believe this will come soon enough once the newly public stock price has levelled out.

Facebook

Facebook has been working on a voice assistant for some time as we can see with Messenger bots, though they are likely to hold back on their hardware ambitions with recent data security and privacy concerns being pushed into the public domain. An always listening device in your home is probably not going to help their marketing wow’s currently.

Bose

Bose is the company I have my eye on, seeing their recent AR glasses and their background in great audio experience through speakers and headphones (the Q35’s are amazing). Bose could change the game again but who will they use to power the voice assistance side of their device or could they make their own play at the technology.

Apple

The Homepod is Apple’s first push into the speaker market but lets not forget Beats. Beats with deeper Siri support has to be on the radar but just like their purchase of Beats, Apple will need to bring something new to a smart Beats product range to make it “Apple”.

Samsung

Samsung has been on a buying spree over the last five years building up both their mobile and smart home arsenal. In 2016 Samsung bought Viv Labs, the startup founded by the creator team of Apple Siri. Most see Samsung as the leading Android device manufacturer, but they also make so many of our “none” intelligent home appliances.

It is surprising that Samsung hasn’t released a speaker sooner, but with a Bixby speaker rumoured for release in the second half of 2018, it won’t be a long wait. Samsung is probably the only company in the short term which can compete with Amazon on the smart home experience, if they keep their focus.

Sonos, Sonos, Sonos

What happened, I love my Sonos speakers, though I am slowly using them less in favour of other smart speakers around my home due to voice control convenience. Sonos have come late to the game, firstly with a slow integration with Alexa to allow multi-room controlling of the Sonos system and then the delayed Play 1 with Alexa built in but on a subset of features. Sonos needs to start building out their own technology or accept the acquisition offer from Amazon or Spotify.

JBL

Known for their cost-effective solutions and good portable players as seen with the recent JBL Link with Google Assistant support, will JBL continue to partner with the voice assistant brands of Google, Amazon and soon Samsung or will they go for their own route?

Google

After the launch of the Google Home and Home Mini google are set to release the MAX later this year, to provide what looks like a lounge speaker to compete with the Sonos Play 3. Google has the AI experiences to win it all if they can bolster their hardware range quickly and remove fears from consumers as Google does like to axe hardware projects.

Amazon

I am not sure what happened to this, as I have seen one at an Amazon Alexa developer day, a portable bullet shaped speaker, perfect for the garden or on the move. Will Amazon release the bullet in time for the warm summer and those relaxing evening BBQ’s.


The wars are fully underway, and though Amazon is leading we won’t know who is gonna to win until it is too late.