Has Alexa replaced Siri as the top virtual assistant brand and cultural reference point?
Apple's HomePod with Siri comes to market later this week.
Beyond the fact that last night’s “Alexa loses her voice” Super Bowl ad (shown below) was very funny, it was also significant for another reason. It marked the changing of the guard between Alexa and Siri, with Amazon’s assistant now replacing Apple’s as the leading brand in the segment.
While I have no immediate consumer data to support that claim, it seems pretty clear that where Siri was once the reference point for voice assistants, Alexa now is. Siri has fallen behind — or is perceived to have fallen behind — as Google and Amazon have engaged in a smart speaker arms race.
Apple’s HomePod with Siri comes to market this week. It reportedly has great sound, but will it compete as a stand-alone virtual assistant device and smart home controller?
Alexa is arguably now the cultural reference point that Siri used to be, cemented by last night’s Super Bowl ad. Siri created the model, and Amazon has seized the momentum. Google saw increased sales and market share gains during Q4, but Google Assistant lacks the “personality” of Siri or Alexa.
In the middle of last year, I wrote that voice search and virtual assistants had become mainstream and that a less competitive assistant, over time, would become a potential liability for Apple. While that may not have happened yet, the (perceived) limitations of Siri on Apple devices will make them less competitive vs. Google and Amazon hardware.
The most capable assistant overall is Google’s. However, because of Amazon’s marketing strength, its distribution and its market-share lead in the smart speaker segment, Alexa has arguably taken what might be called the “unaided-awareness leadership position.”
It has been estimated that there are roughly 45 million smart speakers in US homes, after the holidays. Google previously said that its Assistant was on 400 million devices globally, while Apple countered that there are 500 million active Siri users around the world.