Note: This is just one story from our Dec. 10 issue of TWICE (“The Lists Issue”) and part of our annual end-of-the-year Newsmakers feature. Think we missed someone or something? Let us know in the comments.
Two trends dominated the smart home category in 2018. On the product side, there is the growing battle for voice assistant ecosystem supremacy between Amazon and Google. Not only has there been hockey-stick growth in the number, as well as unit sales, of smart speakers, but the variety of smart home devices endowed with voice-control capabilities continues to widen seemingly exponentially, including in a new category — Echo Show-like smart displays.
One consequence of this growing smart home ecosystem battle is the food chain-like swallowing of smaller smart home players by even larger organizations to dominate through consolidation.
Here is some of the major product and acquisition news from 2018 from the leading smart home vendors.
The world’s dominant e-retailer may have made more news with non-commerce activities, including the conclusion of its controversial secondary HQ city beauty contest and its brief flirtation of topping $1 trillion in value.
As far as actual smart home products are concerned, Amazon unleashed a torrent of new Alexa devices in late September, including a second-generation Echo Show smart display and an Alexa-controlled microwave oven. To expand its smart home ecosystem portfolio, Amazon made two major brand-name acquisitions in the last 12 months: Wi-Fi camera company Blink last December, then video doorbell pioneer Ring for $1 billion-plus a couple of months later.
Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem expansion activities seem to have paid off; by the end of this year, Alexa-based devices are expected to hold a 46 percent share of the voice assistant market, followed by Google Assistant at 28 percent, according to Strategy Analytics.
See also: A Stroll Through The Smart Home: 50 Products For Retailers