Smart speakers with display screens, also known as smart displays, are gaining traction among some of the biggest tech players in the smart speaker market.
Over the past few days, Google, Baidu, and Facebook, among others, have announced smart-display products or strategies.
These devices — including Amazon’s Echo Show — can perform all the same functions as smart speakers, but they also offer the ability for users to make video calls, watch videos, look at photos, and search the internet, using both their voice and hands. Smart display devices introduce a new form factor to support voice assistants, providing voice assistant companies with another avenue to reach consumers inside the home.
Here are the biggest announcements so far around smart speaker devices at CES 2018:
- Google and its partners — LG, Lenovo, Sony, and Harman via JBL — unveiled four new Google Assistant-powered smart displays.
- LG’s new ThinQ WK7 smart display features an 8-inch touch display, about an inch larger than the Echo Show, and boasts Meridian Audio, Chromecast connectivity, and YouTube and Duo support.
- The Lenovo Smart Display looks similar to a tablet, as it has a full HD touchscreen that can be oriented horizontally or vertically. The device, which will start at $200, provides access to YouTube and can be used to control all of users’ connected devices.
- JBL’s smart display, dubbed JBL Link View, features an 8-inch touch screen, a 5-megapixel camera, and two front-firing 10E stereo speakers.
- Details on Sony’s smart display aren’t yet available.
- Baidu introduced the DuerOS-powered smart display, dubbed Little Fish VS1.The Little Fish VS1 screen-enabled smart speaker is powered by the latest and most advanced version of Baidu’s conversational AI system, DuerOS 2.0. The device boasts technology that recognizes and responds to individual faces. The display features video calls and media playback, and is connected to Baidu’s core services, which include Baidu Search, the iQiyi streaming service, and a family cloud photo album.
- Facebook made its first foray into the consumer hardware business with a new video chat device. The device, called Portal, can be controlled via voice commands. It features a screen that’s intended to hold video calls, and stream music and video from services like Spotify and Netflix. Portal will be equipped with facial-recognition technology to enable users to link their faces with their respective Facebook accounts. Although Portal is similar in design to smart displays like Amazon’s Echo Show, Facebook plans to market the device as a tool to keep users connected to family and friends by encouraging them to spend more time browsing and messaging on its social network.
Smart display devices that are equipped with voice assistants could drive greater usage of smart speakers overall. Some of the main hurdles facing the smart speaker market are keeping users engaged and making the device more of a need-to-have, as opposed to a nice-to-have. For instance, 61% of consumers say they don’t interact with voice assistants because they aren’t interested in them, according to data from Pew Research Center. Coupling smart speakers with digital screens help to provide new use cases for the technology, which could spike consumer interest and drive uptake of smart speakers.
Peter Newman, research analyst for BI Intelligence, has put together a Smart Speaker report that analyzes the market potential of the Echo Look, Echo Show, and HomePod. Using exclusive survey data, this report evaluates each device’s potential for adoption based on four criteria: awareness, excitement, usefulness, and purchase intent. Finally, the report draws some inferences from our data about the direction the smart speaker market could take from here.
Here are some of the key takeaways:
- Amazon’s new Echo Show is the big winner — it has mass-market appeal and looks like it will take off. The combination of usefulness and excitement will drive consumers to buy the Echo Show. The Echo Look, though, seems like it will struggle to attract that same level of interest.
- Apple’s HomePod looks likely to find a place in the smart speaker market but won’t dominate its space like the iPhone or iPad did.
- The smart speaker market will evolve rapidly in the next few years, with more devices featuring screens, a variety of more focused products emerging, and eventually, the voice assistant moving beyond the smart speaker.
In full, the report:
- Showcases exclusive survey data on initial consumer reactions to the Echo Look, Echo Show, and HomePod.
- Highlights the aims and strategies of major players in the smart speaker market.
- Provides analysis on the direction this nascent market will take and the opportunity for companies considering a move into the space.
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The Next Smartphone by the BI Intelligence Research Team.
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