Smart Speakers – Are they worth it?


Smart Speakers is the new FAD today. Alexa was available in India from last year. With Google Mini Home launched in India a couple of days back, the fight has become intense. But the important question is what is actually customer getting out of this device ? or is it a gimmick or new toy on the block!

What is a smart speaker?

A smart speaker is a speaker device with a voice assistant. It needs two things: power and good wifi connection for operation. Since all the queries to it are sent to the server to fetch the relevant information. The services of the smart speaker can be extended for home automation.

Why should I buy it?

An average middle class Indian would not find any reason for buying it. As on today as we have apps on phones which are accessible and more comfortable to use. The voice assistant on these speakers is also available on mobile phones. But, on a positive note, it is like a standalone encyclopedia which can be used by any family member. The same is difficult on a personal phone. But, they should converse with the smart speaker in English language only.

Also, one of the limiting factors is the audio level for giving commands. You may notice that people raise their voice pitch and tone to give commands to the device which looks quite abnormal and is not a great consumer experience for regular usage. Also, the device may catch inputs from the running TV or radio service.

Having said that, The use case is not limited to being an encyclopedia. They can play music for you as well! The primary use of speakers 🙂

As per the study, 2/3rd of the people who are using these smart speakers are using it for listening to music

These smart speakers are trying to be smarter by tying up with a lot of service providers like the cab, food, online shopping and Home automation devices (light controls etc)

I see a very good use case for kids as it will help to answer kid’s curiosity in its current form. The other popular use cases of these devices are for adding/reading a reminder, setting an alarm etc.

In near future, Home automation may be a driving use case in India subjected to price drops for ecosystem devices including the smart speakers!

How can I buy it?

Two of the famous smart speakers are available through rival online channels Amazon and Flipkart. No prizes for guessing which is available where. There are multiple version of these smart speakers available starting from INR 4449/-and above

Here is a link for quick reference

India is a big and incredible market with multiple languages. Though both smart speakers support Indian accent for English. It would be interesting to see if these global giants come up with the understanding language in their NLP algorithms.  I am sure teams would be working to make the consumer experience better but sooner the better before the consumer loses interest.

Cost reduction shall also be a great motivation for buying these speakers for experimenting and spreading word of mouth. However, the current prices are too high for tier-2 and tier-3 customers to even think about it.

The real experience and ramp-up may come for these smart speakers in India when they are bundled with some service that is used regularly by the consumer else they will be the next 3D glasses!

Do, let me know in comments if you want me to write on any new topic. My old & new blogs are available here – My Little Blog!