Sarah Perez (@sarahintampa)”> Specifically, analysts expect the market to grow by 56.3 million this year, with both Amazon and Google leading the way via their Echo and Home product lines. The U.S. will also continue to be the most important market for smart speakers, the report says, with shipments expected to reach 38.4 million in 2018.

China will be a distant second with 4.4 million units. The U.S. is expected to continue its lead through 2020, the report noted, thanks to a combination of factors including broadband penetration, U.S. consumers’ willingness to adopt new technologies, smart home integrations that make the speakers more useful, and the lowered price points for the hardware.

In China, however, Amazon and Google won’t have as much success. Instead, local vendors like Alibaba, JD.com and Xiaomi will lead for the time being.

With increased smart speaker adoption, the companies in this space will also begin to tackle monetization – that is, beyond sales of the hardware itself. “While 2017 has been a banner year for smart speakers in terms of hardware sales, especially for Google and Amazon, smart speakers in 2018 will move beyond hardware, with strategic attempts to monetize the growing installed base in the US and beyond,” noted Canalys Research Analyst Lucio Chen.

“The possibilities to do this are endless, be it discreet advertising, content subscription bundles, premium services or enterprise solutions. The technology is still in transition, and increased investments from multiple players of the ecosystem will fuel growth,” Chen said. Read more from techcrunch.com…

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