Smart Speakers: The Future of Audio?

Google Home finally comes to Canada this week (Best Buy and other retailers have ’em for sale for less than $200) and unless I’ve missed something, this is the first chance Canadians have to experiment with smart speakers. Meanwhile, the US and Britain have been using Google Home and Amazon’s Echo for some time now and the consensus seems to be that these new devices are the future of audio. Here’s what Forbes has to say.

The time to pay attention to audio is now.

This was the overwhelming sentiment of the speakers at the RAIN Podcast Business Summit presented by NPR. According to Bridge Ratings & Media Analysis, the revenue projections for the podcast industry is set to reach $500 million by 2020. But the summit focused on more than just the booming podcast industry.

Because while the data presented by Edison Research surrounding podcasts is impressive — 67 million people listen every month — smart speakers were the real star of the summit. Smart speakers are wireless playback devices that often feature voice-activated digital assistants.

Smart speakers are still relatively young. Amazon pioneered their first smart speaker, the Amazon Echo, in late 2014 for Amazon Prime members, with a general U.S. release date in August 2015. Google followed their lead, releasing Google Home in November 2016. But considering that 20 million people (7% of Americans) own at least one smart speaker, it’s important for companies to consider the conversation they’re having with their customers.

 “It’s been said that with the disruption of audio media, it’s been a positive disruption,” says Gina Garrubbo, President and CEO of National Public Media. “Because your consumption is additive. It’s that multi-tasking aspect, layered with smart speakers and voice command.”
Read the whole article here. It’ll be interesting to see how Sonos responds and how Apple’s HomePod will fair. And as an aside, Amazon Echo now has intercom features. I need this.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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