Amazon Continues to Dominate U.S. Smart Speaker Market

FriendlyMackle

macrumors 6502
Oct 29, 2011
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NYC
Apple trained the market with years of their horrendous earbuds. Now, why would customers pay hundreds for decent sound?
I have been using iphones since 2010—and I have never, in all those years, used the accompanying earbuds. How hard is it to purchase a separate plug-in set of headphones/earphones if you prefer good audio quality? I do like nice audio, so I have always made a point to use nice quality 'phones.

But for those people who don't care, then yes, they would use the included pair. Nevertheless, most people would be able to hear the difference between something craptastic like an Amazon anything-speaker and a HomePod. Google's higher end units are close in quality to the HomePod, but come with the very serious caveat of LACK of user privacy protection.

For a non-Apple product, I would choose Sonos. Smart or dumb, their units consistently receive good audio reviews.
 
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DevNull0

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Jan 6, 2015
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a pair of rcas, with an optional phono preamp mode, a toslink, and hdmi.

Why would you need a 3.5mm TRRS input?
FWIW, I completely agree with you. A 3.5mm would be the minimum viable connection to make the HomePod more than a paperweight. RCAs and an HDMI would be better. The others are a bit obsolete but, of course, better there than not there. My 2018 model AV Receiver sure has everything you listed.
 

I7guy

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Nov 30, 2013
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Gotta be in it to win it
FWIW, I completely agree with you. A 3.5mm would be the minimum viable connection to make the HomePod more than a paperweight. RCAs and an HDMI would be better. The others are a bit obsolete but, of course, better there than not there. My 2018 model AV Receiver sure has everything you listed.
One mans paperweight is another’s great sounding speaker. I doubt Apple is going to provide external digital and/or analog inputs.

I’m looking to pick up one or two more.

I’m okay with the so-called “limitations”.
 

MisterSavage

macrumors 68000
Nov 10, 2018
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I just became too frustrated with Alexa. The AI just seems so far behind the Google Assistant. With that it continues to surprise me with what questions it is able to answer.
 

MarkAtl

macrumors regular
Jul 9, 2019
106
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Nice. So you'll be throwing them away in a couple of years when Sonos decide that you need to upgrade them?

As opposed to traditional hifi systems - which sound better as well.
I only have one speaker impacted by the recent notice (a Play 5 that I bought on eBay 5 years ago) so it’s doubtful that will happen. Possible, but suicidal for them as a company.

Sonos speakers have streaming smarts built into them. I’m unaware of any traditional hifi setups that combine a portable wireless multi-room audio speaker with app-based streaming audio. Is there one?
 
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PickUrPoison

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Sep 12, 2017
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I see a lot of people comparing this to what we had between the Apple Watch and FitBit, but considering how bad Siri is and how limited the Homepod's connectivity and source material are, the analogy fails. If the FitBit were actually better than the Apple Watch, with better accuracy and more applications and more ways to be useful, but the Apple Watch's advantage had been only a slightly better display at 3X the price, then you'd have your parallel. And we'd all be wearing FitBits.
The point is it’s a completely different product. A $15 dot doesn’t play great sounding music, the HomePod does. Apple doesn’t make an inexpensive voice assistant, Amazon/google do. It makes no sense to group them in the same market segment.

The google Home Max is $299, like HomePod. Sonos makes some great sounding speakers. That grouping makes sense, and you can compare various features of those products in a meaningful way.

Would anyone be surprised that google Home Max has less than 1% market share when you lump it in with $20 Amazon and google mics? Who cares, it’s not relevant.
 
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MarkAtl

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Jul 9, 2019
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The point is it’s a completely different product. A $15 dot doesn’t play great sounding music, the HomePod does. Apple doesn’t make an inexpensive voice assistant, Amazon/google do. It makes no sense to group them in the same market segment.

The google Home Max is $299, like HomePod. Sonos makes some great sounding speakers. That grouping make sense, and you can compare various features of those products in a meaningful way.

Would anyone be surprised that google Home Max has less than 1% market share when you lump it in with $20 Amazon and google mics? Who cares, it’s not relevant.
It’s like comparing a Timex with a Rolex. Both are watches but...
 
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jerwin

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Jun 13, 2015
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My question still stands - what is a replacement for Sonos that uses “traditional hifi”?
Denon HEOS?
 
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Ursadorable

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Jul 9, 2013
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Anyone with an Alexa or Google home are ignorant on how these invade your lives. These devices are literally listening all the time, harvesting your information. Try talking around these devices about something simple like telling your spouse you're considering a trip to some destination. The next thing you know you'll start seeing ads for it on facebook and google.
 

ipponrg

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Oct 15, 2008
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Anyone with an Alexa or Google home are ignorant on how these invade your lives. These devices are literally listening all the time, harvesting your information. Try talking around these devices about something simple like telling your spouse you're considering a trip to some destination. The next thing you know you'll start seeing ads for it on facebook and google.
What about the big elephants in the room?

Wireless carriers can tap into your phone calls. Credit card companies can look at what you buy. Mortgage documents are public in many states. Employers can spy on your computer usage. Oh yeah, let's use Siri because Apple isn't using contractors to collect information on how to make it better.

Let's be ignorant in thinking that Alexa/Google are the only ones that invade your life.
 
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DevNull0

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Jan 6, 2015
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It’s like comparing a Timex with a Rolex. Both are watches but...
Great analogy, I guess you mean Apple is like Rolex. A Timex with a quartz movement keeps time as well as or better than any Rolex with a mechanical movement.

As a watch, the Timex is the better choice. If you want a fashion accessory where you're paying for the name, look, precious metals and stones, etc...all things that have nothing to do with the fact that both are watches, Rolex is the better choice.
 

Glenny2lappies

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Sep 29, 2006
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Brighton, UK
With Sonos you can also pair speakers. My question still stands - what is a replacement for Sonos that uses “traditional hifi”?
I'll try...

There's different "use cases" for listening to music, radio, podcasts, audiobooks, etc.

When actively listening to music, decent sound is a pre-requisite. Hence a traditional hifi config. Same with watching a film on the telly. For that you need good speakers and they don't need to move around.

Mine are in my office (Kef speakers connected to a Marantz AV amp which supports Bluetooth & Airplay). My telly config consists of full-size Bowers and Wilkins speakers connected to a quality AV amp in a 6.1 config).

Don't really listen to music elsewhere, except the car.

For radio, have a dedicated radio in the kitchen/diner. Also have a separate portable Bose BT speaker which can play podcasts, etc. Also dedicated clock radios in the bedrooms.

Just can't see the point of portable speakers for serious music listening, sorry Sonos, but cables from a good amplifier work just fine. Also struggle to see the point of smart speakers with their awful user interfaces and *massive* security risks.
 

MarkAtl

macrumors regular
Jul 9, 2019
106
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I'll try...

There's different "use cases" for listening to music, radio, podcasts, audiobooks, etc.

When actively listening to music, decent sound is a pre-requisite. Hence a traditional hifi config. Same with watching a film on the telly. For that you need good speakers and they don't need to move around.

Mine are in my office (Kef speakers connected to a Marantz AV amp which supports Bluetooth & Airplay). My telly config consists of full-size Bowers and Wilkins speakers connected to a quality AV amp in a 6.1 config).

Don't really listen to music elsewhere, except the car.

For radio, have a dedicated radio in the kitchen/diner. Also have a separate portable Bose BT speaker which can play podcasts, etc. Also dedicated clock radios in the bedrooms.

Just can't see the point of portable speakers for serious music listening, sorry Sonos, but cables from a good amplifier work just fine. Also struggle to see the point of smart speakers with their awful user interfaces and *massive* security risks.
Thanks for the perspective. Your use cases really don’t see a need for smart speakers.

My use cases are very different.

One is sound throughout the main floor of my house. An option would be to put in ceiling speakers connected to volume controls but the cost, hassle and wiring would likely cost more than what I’d spent for Sonos already plus a few additions.

Another is an easy way on a room by room basis to play streaming audio, ideally without requiring a device to stream from.

My biggest TV (80” 1080P) is in my basement media room, which uses a traditional 5.2 setup. My den off the kitchen really doesn’t lend itself to having rear surrounds so the Sonos Playbar and Sub works just fine.

Your comment about UI and security issues isn’t really valid for Sonos. Yes, they had vulnerabilities which needed patching. And the UI is easy to use.

Denon as pointed out earlier has a “like for like” replacement, but none of what you do really is a replacement; as you mention you don’t even see a need for smart speakers.
 
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jerwin

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Jun 13, 2015
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Anyone with an Alexa or Google home are ignorant on how these invade your lives. These devices are literally listening all the time, harvesting your information. Try talking around these devices about something simple like telling your spouse you're considering a trip to some destination. The next thing you know you'll start seeing ads for it on facebook and google.
Activate This ‘Bracelet of Silence,’ and Alexa Can’t Eavesdrop Microphones and cameras lurk everywhere. You may want to slip on some privacy armor.
 

jerwin

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Jun 13, 2015
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That plus a tinfoil hat and you are set!!

Bad news everyone, privacy became extinct long ago, best to accept it and then you will be at peace and able to enjoy things.
Residents of Eastern Germany might disagree.