Amazon leads smart speaker race with 20M devices sold, study claims, but Google is gaining ground

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Amazon is leading the way in the smart home automation market — thanks to its growing line of Alexa-powered devices — but Google is gaining ground as it too expands its product offerings, according to a new study.

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners surveyed 500 owners of Amazon Echo and Google Home devices in October and used the data to estimate that Amazon and its Echo products have a 73 percent U.S. market share of “home automation devices,” compared to 27 percent for Google and its Google Home device. CIRP’s last estimate in September put Amazon at 76 percent and Google at 24 percent.

CIRP estimates that Amazon has now sold 20 million Echo units since the first device was released in 2015. A year ago, Amazon had sold 5 million units, according to CIRP estimates, indicating that sales have picked up drastically in the last 12 months. CIRP estimates that approximately 7 million Google Home units have sold since the smart speaker’s debut last year.

The field is about to get a lot more crowded, most notably when Apple’s HomePod device comes out in December. But Amazon and Google have a head start on the competition, and that should give them a leg up when more competitors enter the fray, CIRP estimates.

“On the one hand, the market is very new and growing rapidly, so there should be room,” for more smart speakers, said Josh Lowitz, partner and co-founder of CIRP. “On the other hand, Amazon and now Google have a huge head start in establishing their home automation operating platforms. The number of services, skills, and applications that already integrate with Amazon Alexa and Google Home systems, and the installed bases of early adopters who lead the way as more and more homes seek to be connected in these ways, create significant hurdles for an entrant with a new home operating system.”

Microsoft’s Cortana made her smart speaker debut last month, powering the $199 Harman Kardon Invoke. Tech giants Samsung and Alibaba, among others, also recently released their own smart speakers.

As the competition heats up, Amazon and Google have recently expanded their catalogs of smart speakers. In September, Amazon announced a next generation Echo, a new smart home-focused Echo Plus and more.

Google’s $49 Home Mini, the search giant’s answer to the pint-sized Echo Dot, hit the streets last week. And in December, Google will release the $399 Google Home Max, a larger, more powerful smart speaker similar to the Apple HomePod.