According to a new report from Canalys, 2018 will be a “defining year” for smart speakers including Apple’s HomePod.
The market research firm predicts that 56.3 million speakers will be shipped worldwide in 2018 with 38.4 million in the United States. China will be second with 4.4 million speakers.
That’s up significantly from 2017 and will make the category the fastest growing consumer technology department:
“2018 will be the defining year for smart speaker adoption,” said Canalys Research Analyst Lucio Chen. “Smart speaker uptake has grown faster than any other consumer technology we’ve recently encountered, such as AR, VR or even wearables. 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. The possibilities to do this are endless, be it discreet advertising, content subscription bundles, premium services or enterprise solutions. The technology is still in transition, and increased investments from multiple players of the ecosystem will fuel growth.”
While Amazon and Google had a strong holiday season of smart speaker sales, Apple’s HomePod missed the important period. Originally scheduled for launch in December, it will launch sometime early this year and retail for $349.