Smart speakers ‘disgraced’: When users turn away, sales plummet without brake

Tram Ho

Once a product that oriented the smarthome trend, now smart speakers are often seen lying neatly in the corners of the house.

Smart speakers used to be a representative product of the smarthome era, a magical creature that can turn any traditional house into smart modern apartments, allowing users to sit in one place and control everything with just one touch. voice.

But reality has proven, these miraculous speakers turned out to be more mediocre than expected. “It’s basically useless and can only be used as an alarm clock” , many users have said about such a smart speaker.

Obviously, one of the main problems of smart speakers is that the interactive experience is not completely intelligent and many times exhibit “intellectual retardation” behaviors. That’s not to mention disappointing when compared to the beautiful visions advertised by the manufacturers. On the other hand, in this very small niche market, large manufacturers are creating a fierce price war, causing startups to just withdraw.

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The dream of “Control Center” melted into smoke

In 2014, Amazon launched the Echo smart speaker. This device not only integrates voice function but can also control switches, lights and is expected to become a control center device for smart homes in the future. . With the popularity of Echo, many Internet companies then joined the game, from Apple, Samsung, Google, Xiaomi, LG, Sony to audio companies like BJL, Sonos, Alibaba, Baidu, Huawei… Every technology has launched its own smart speaker products.

However, until now, it is still difficult to say that smart speakers have realized the vision that manufacturers have drawn.

According to some experts, the biggest reason why smart speakers have been “disgraced” is that it has not promoted its role and value in the field of Internet of Things. And the root of the problem comes from the smarthome device manufacturers themselves. Because it is rare that we can see the kind of home appliances that are reasonably integrated with smart speakers, especially when compared to smartphones, even though they are always advertised as playing the role of smart speakers. “indispensable” game.

In a modern home, you can come across many “control centers”, such as mobile phones, TVs, and central control screens. This is the problem, when no manufacturer wants to put themselves in a dependent position.

TV manufacturers claim that their audio-visual equipment will gradually transform from a simple program signal receiver into a smart control center and entertainment center for the whole family. As the protagonist in every living room and also as an information display terminal, the natural advantages of the TV make it easy to become an interaction hub, control center, playback hub and even both storage centers in smarthomes.

After that, many companies selling traditional home appliances did not want to stay out of the game. They in turn added touch screen functionality to the refrigerator, washing machine and even integrated it into the stove. When everyone wants to own the house, no one wants their product to be commanded by another speaker.

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Refrigerators also want to compete with smart speakers.

In addition, the protocols and standards in the control of smart home systems are still in a state of inconsistency. Only virtual assistants, both Google and Apple and Amazon want to “be the best”. Meanwhile, Chinese companies like Xiaomi and Huawei do not want to depend on anyone. The chaos makes smart devices incompatible with each other, when everyone wants to build their own ecosystem. Even home appliance companies are launching their own protocols and platforms. But no ecosystem is perfect, which forces users to use a combination of products from many different brands, which leads to trouble in the overall control process, especially when it from a speaker.

It is even more controversial that while smart speakers can only support voice control, some smarthome companies have proposed a method of active interaction, i.e. determining the user’s status. through sensors and other technologies. This once again poses a challenge for smart speakers on their way to becoming the control center of the whole house.

Having a reputation for being intelligent but mentally retarded?

Although born quite early, to this day, smart speakers still face many core issues, such as information and data security, interactive experiences, obstacles in voice interaction. and the ability to link content.

This is also the problem that is most often complained by smart speaker users. Under the propaganda of manufacturers, users always hope they can communicate in a “conversational” method with smart speakers similar to human-to-human communication. But most smart speakers cannot understand complex languages ​​and can only play music, tell stories or check weather information. Sometimes these basic features go the wrong way. Many smart speaker users have experienced “intellectual disability” conversations with their smart speakers.

Sharing on social networks, you can come across a lot of funny situations when users try to control everything through smart speakers.

“When giving the order to open the curtains, the system acknowledges the command but takes no action. When it wants to turn on the air conditioner, it plays music.”

“Every night, I have to shout two or three times before the lights go off. Sometimes when I’m watching TV, the lights automatically turn on,” another user lamented.

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The CEO of Xiaomi used to “salt face” for a smart speaker.

There is a good example that at Xiaomi’s AIoT conference, Lei Quan, president of the Chinese technology group, was also “pitted” when demonstrating the Xiaoai smart speaker. Because he wanted to show the intelligence of the company’s products, he asked many times the riddle: “What are the three trees (木) called?” , the answer should have been forest (森), but the speaker gave all unrelated answers such as electricity, light…

Next, when asked an easier math question: “What is 125 + 357 + 567?” , this time the speaker was even silent, not responding to a single sentence. The incident caused laughter below the stage, and to this day the laughter seems to continue when it comes to the wisdom of smart speakers.

Not only Xiaomi, speakers of many other major Chinese brands also have similar problems. One parent shared that the Tmall Genie brand smart speaker she bought often played music on its own and spoke suddenly, scaring the children in the house.

“Almost every day the speaker sings at midnight. I’ve adjusted the volume but nothing has changed. Feedback to the producer but the problem has not been resolved. My child is often scared of sounds. suddenly came on. Then I turned it off for a long time, only daring to turn it on during the day to let my children listen to children’s songs,” the parent said.

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No one wants their children to play with the same “intellectual underdevelopment” smart speaker.

Meanwhile, the Xiaodu smart speaker of the Baidu brand has been accused of bringing bad experiences when arbitrarily inserting ads. Some users complain that starting from May this year, every time the Xiaodu smart speaker is activated to play a song or story, it will always arbitrarily insert some ads for about 10 seconds before playing. . This greatly affects the user experience. Especially before going to bed at night, when you want to listen to soothing songs, ads are suddenly inserted, making the feeling of sleepiness suddenly broken.

With all kinds of poor experiences, many users report that the frequency of using smart speakers at home becomes extremely low. Or they are just used as alarm clocks, sometimes as music players, and most of the time in a dusty state.

China used to be the world’s fastest growing smart speaker market, but according to the latest figures, speaker sales have fallen more than 20% for three consecutive quarters this year, in stark contrast to the hot growth situation. fever in previous years.

In a poll for the most “dusty” electronic products, or the products that are most neglected by users, smart speakers are also on the list.

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A speaker model integrated with Baidu’s touch screen.

However, not so that the smart speaker market stagnates. Large companies are still constantly squeezing smaller producers with subsidies. That is also the reason you can easily buy smart speakers at very cheap prices, a few hundred or even a few tens of thousands of dong on e-commerce platforms, from well-known brands like today.

In China, the data of the third quarter of this year shows that the big four Baidu, Xiaomi, Tmall Genie and Huawei have held a total smart speaker market share of up to 97%. Of course, despite the reputation of loss and difficulty in making a profit, each brand is constantly looking for a new way out for smart speakers.

For example, Baidu, Xiaomi and Tmall Genie have launched smart speakers with a built-in display. Compared to the first smart speakers, in addition to the ability to interact by voice, they have now added touch screen interaction features, in addition to other rich functions such as watching videos. Huawei has shifted its focus to developing smart speakers with high-end sound quality.

In the international market, Amazon has also recently shown that it is still trying to find ways to integrate smart speakers into other products such as TVs, security cameras, or diversify the design of speaker products for consumers. children.

According to experts, in the future, smart speaker manufacturers should not only focus on competing for market share, but should focus more on the function and experience of the product itself. Because only good products can dominate the market stably, and if they continue to provide products with poor features and experiences, they will soon be eliminated by the market.

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Source : Genk