Hearables Q1 Recap
This weekend, I published a quarterly recap of all the developments that occurred in the hearables space for the website Voicebot.ai. There was a lot of movement this past quarter, with new entrants entering or announcing that they’re entering the market soon, and old players raising the white flag. Meanwhile, Apple introduced an updated version of AirPods and the upcoming debut of Powerbeats Pro. Check out the article for a full-breakdown.
I would argue that up until this quarter, Apple’s AirPods have been pretty much left uncontested by its competitors, which has allowed Apple to get out to a comfortable lead in the true wireless earbud market. AirPods and Beats represent the best area for Siri to thrive. The era where Apple goes uncontested in the near-field appears to be ending as the other major smart assistant providers, Samsung and Amazon, enter into the ring (Google’s already in with Pixel Buds).
Amazon, to me, is the most serious contender to steal away market share from Apple in the near-field and the reason being is that Amazon can push its hardware effectively through its e-commerce arm. Along with the growth of Amazon smart speakers and the increasing adoption of Alexa, it would appear that Amazon.com receives millions of searches each month pertaining to headphones (thanks to Emily Binder for pointing this out):
Once Amazon releases it’s upcoming “Alexa-buds” or whatever they’ll be named, guess which result Amazon is going to return to its users for all of these headphone-related searches? That’s the luxury Amazon affords as both the manufacturer and the retailer. While I mentioned in the article that one of the major challenges Amazon faces with its in-the-ear Alexa device is the lack of its own smartphone ecosystem, the fact that Amazon can rig its own shopping search engine should be a huge advantage and a reason to think Amazon’s AirPods competitor might be a serious challenge to AirPods initial dominance. Now, all of this is moot if Amazon’s hearable does not match or exceed AirPods’ quality, which is a significant challenge in itself.
The fact of the matter is that the voice assistant battleground has moved outside of the home into multiple new fronts. Auto, healthcare, education, enterprise, hospitality, banking and the near-field (the ear). Those are some of the new battlegrounds that Alexa, Siri, Bixby and Google are going to be competing in. Things are about to get really interesting.
-Thanks for Reading-