Why Apple Needed To Make A Smart Music Speaker

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Voice-activated smart speakers are shaping up to be “game changers” in the streaming music business, RBC Capital Markets said Monday, citing the results of its latest survey of U.S. internet users.

The data provide an indication of why Apple (AAPL) is jumping into the market with its HomePod speaker and why it uncharacteristically announced the device six months before its expected release. Apple unveiled HomePod on June 5 at its Worldwide Developers Conference and said the $349 product will be available in December in the U.S.

Apple HomePod will compete with voice-activated products already on the market, namely Amazon.com‘s (AMZN) Echo speakers and Alphabet‘s (GOOGL) Google Home speakers.

“For music, voice-activated devices could well constitute the next major platform shift,” RBC analyst Mark Mahaney said in a report. With smart speakers, users can play specific music with voice commands.


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Of the more than 1,200 people surveyed by RBC, 14% already own a voice-activated device, with 71% of these owning an Amazon Echo.

“Not surprisingly, Amazon Music was the most prominent service used by voice-activated device owners at 32% selection, though Pandora (P) came in a close second at 29%,” Mahaney said. “Pandora was also tied for the leading streaming music service on Google Home devices. Getting this platform shift right will be key for Pandora (Spotify, Apple Music, etc …) going forward.”

Among Amazon Echo owners, Amazon Music was the leading streaming service at 38%, followed by Pandora with 28%. Among Google Home owners, Google Play tied with Pandora with each getting 27% share.

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