Smart Speakers are the new big tech battle, and big privacy debate

Is this town big enough for all of the different companies vying to be number in the new realm of home Smart speakers?

Smart speakers have found their way into many of our homes in the past 5 years. Since Amazon launched the Echo Smart speaker in 2014 the tech industry have perked up their noses at the roaring success of the speaker and now Artificial Intelligence powered speakers are an entire market of their own.

Since the Echo took the world by storm there have been AI infused offerings from Apple, Google, Sonos and many more smaller brand offerings. It feels like everyone has a smart speaker, or at least a quarter of everyone as a study in February showed that 23% of American households contain a Smart Speaker.

Facebook are the next big company to get in on the market with their Portal home speaker planned for launch later this year. Their Portal device will offer a similar package to it’s contemporaries but with video, like Amazon’s Echo Show launched in 2017.

Facebook are looking to pin down a corner of the market for themselves by going beyond a smart speaker with video. They want the Portal to be a full multimedia device, approaching Netflix, Disney and others about making their video streaming services available on their device.

With questions over whether a device that is constantly listening and recording in our homes infringes on personal privacy, Facebook’s entry to the market could bring those concerns further home. Facebook are one of the most notorious entities for concerns over our privacy in the digital age.

But that’s one of the good things about the amount of competition in the Smart speaker industry currently. With no monopoly over Smart speakers there isn’t one sole entity in all households that own a device. As soon as there is a sole brand recording the voices, and even video, within our homes then there is a real question of security.

Hopefully competition will push the brand’s to prioritise privacy as a selling point. “Hey, get the new Amazon Echo – Don’t Listen edition. Unlike Facebook we won’t save anything you say, ever!” For now we hopefully don’t need to be concerned about these “always on” microphones.

I’m sure that in the next few years we will only see the Smart speaker market increase in variety and offerings as more cash in on the matter. Hopefully that competition keeps the products innovative and the privacy a matter of priority.

Head of Social Media and Marketing, RouteNote

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