Led by Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant powered devices, the global smart speaker market (including smart displays) is set to reach 163 million units in 2021 -- a growth of 21 per cent -- according to a new report.
The global smart speaker installed base is forecast to reach 640 million by 2024, paving the way for the ambient computing paradigm shift.
The global smart speaker market is expected to emerge stronger next year, with markets outside China expected to recover and contribute a larger portion of the annual growth, said the report by market research firm Canalys.
Apple revealed the HomePod mini at its October launch event, mounting a challenge against the incumbents.
"Apple still has much to prove to attract users, especially as the HomePod mini is up against other new $99 devices, which are larger in size and with assistants perceived to be smarter," said Canalys Research Manager Jason Low.
Apple must deliver its acclaimed premium user experience by leveraging its proprietary ecosystem of hardware, software and services.
"The HomePod mini would give its competitors a run for their money if the sound quality proves to be better despite its smaller size, and if the UWB and Intercom features work seamlessly for users," Low said in a statement.
Notably, Apple is the only global platform vendor selling hardware and services in China.
In 2020, Mainland China will lead the smart speaker market, growing 16 per cent, while the rest of the market is expected to grow 3 per cent as countries continue to battle the coronavirus.
Smart speakers continue to improve despite the simplicity of the form factor and the challenge is to bring noticeable improvements and innovation with minimal increase in costs.
"Amazon and Google are striving to spark interest by breaking the speaker mould, each taking different design routes aimed to obtain sound quality improvements, not only with physical design changes, but also introducing additional elements of computational audio," he explained.
In the future, a customer's listening experience will be increasingly adaptable and driven by AI.
"However, the smart assistant ecosystem needs to be supported by third-party developers, hardware vendors, and service providers," Low said.