Apple fans favour Echo over Google Home
If you want a smartphone in 2017, your choice is pretty clear: iOS or Android. Yes, with enough patience, you could hunt down a device running Windows 10, but the evidence is pretty clear: people don’t in numbers that couldn’t be mistaken for a rounding error.
Currently, the world of smart speakers is equally divided, but in tonight’s performance, the role of Apple will be played by Amazon. Until Apple’s HomePod hits shelves at the end of the year, it’s Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or silence. So where do fans of iOS end up landing? A CIRP survey of 300 Echo and Home owners conducted 16 days in July points to a pretty straightforward answer: on the whole, they plump for Amazon.
Amongst the Echo users, 55% owned an iPhone, with the remainder using Android. That’s close enough to be coincidence until you look at the breakdown of Google Home users, where things are a lot more stark: just 25% of Google Home users didn’t also own an Android device. To put these numbers into some context, while the Home split isn’t too far removed from overall smartphone ownership trends in the United States, the Echo sample significantly overstates iOS’s reach, which is actually bumping around the 34% mark.
In other words, from this admittedly quite limited sample, it appears that iOS users are more inclined to see Google Home as a product for those who are already locked into Google’s ecosystem – which isn’t a wholly unreasonable position to take, given the preferential treatment it gives Google Play Music, Google Calendar and Gmail.
Josh Lowitz, co-founder of CIRP, was keen to point out that while these findings are interesting, there’s still a very long way to go, as smart speakers are still clearly in their infancy – especially when compared to the all-conquering smartphone. “Even though Amazon has sold 15 million Echo devices, Apple has an installed base of over 140 million iPhones in the US, so Echo hasn’t penetrated deeply into the iPhone ownership group,” he explained. “Yet, this initial data suggests that Amazon has gained a meaningful foothold among Apple’s US customer base.”
The interesting question is how much of this install base is just biding its time waiting for Siri to relocate to the living room. The Apple HomePod launches in December, which may well tempt some of them away from Amazon, but there is a significant bar to entry: Siri’s new house comes with a significantly higher RRP of $349 (~£265).
It would be surprising if Amazon’s own analytics didn’t warn them of this incoming danger – after all, you need to install the Alexa app to set up and manage the Echo. Perhaps this goes some way to explaining the sudden flurry of Echo-shaped devices that the company announced last week – it has to press that advantage before Apple gets out of the starting blocks.
Not to be outdone, Google used last night’s “Made by Google” event to announce its own advances in the smart speaker space: Google Home Mini is going to go head to head with Amazon’s Echo Dot, allowing users to connect their own sound system to a cheaper, smaller device.
Amazon may be in a strong position, having released Echo long before Google and Apple got out of bed (the Echo launched a year late in the UK, remember), but it will likely be squeezed from both sides in the coming months. And if people break to the HomePod in the same way Android users hone in on Google Home, they’ll have trouble keeping up.