Innovation

Digital assistants dominating consumer tech: Here's what it means for business

Increased buy-in may mean more monetization opportunities for advertisers and new ways to reach consumers.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Smart speakers are the fastest growing consumer technology, with a new Canalys report estimating 56.3 million will be sold in 2018.
  • More consumer use may mean increased business interest in ways to monetize the devices and add in advertising.

Smart speakers are the fastest growing consumer technology, according to a new report from Canalys.

Suppliers, mostly heavy-hitters like Amazon and Google, are estimated to sell 56.3 million speakers worldwide in 2018, according to the report. More consumer interest may fuel growth as businesses explore options for advertising and monetization, Canalys Research Analyst Lucio Chen said in the report.

SEE: Internet of Things policy (Tech Pro Research)

"While 2017 has been a banner year for smart speakers in terms of hardware sales, especially for Google and Amazon, smart speakers in 2018 will move beyond hardware, with strategic attempts to monetize the growing installed base in the US and beyond," Chen said. "The possibilities to do this are endless, be it discreet advertising, content subscription bundles, premium services, or enterprise solutions."

Businesses may create paid content specifically for speakers, similar to subscription-based smartphone apps or an audio newsletter. Several of the potential routes could also have advertising built in, allowing businesses to reach an increasingly ad-avoidant consumer.

The increase in the devices in the home may also be good for the speakers' future in the enterprise. While some companies already use them to help with simple tasks like scheduling and number crunching, employees may be more comfortable using them in the office if they use them at home.

The digital assistants beat other emerging tech like augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) and wearables in expected growth, according to our sister site ZDNet.

The Amazon Echo and Google Home are expected to maintain a large share of speaker sales in the year, but the report predicted new vendors and options would enter the market in 2018. However, Amazon and Google currently cover 94% of the smart speaker market, according to a new report from Strategy Analytics.

The US is expected to purchase the most smart speakers for a single country at around 38.4 million, followed by China with 4.4 million, the report said. Businesses may be able to reach new markets as the technology takes off in additional countries.

Also see

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Image: Ry Crist/CNET

About Olivia Krauth

Olivia Krauth is a Multiplatform Reporter at TechRepublic.

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