Amazon has been selling vast numbers of its Echo range of smart speakers to customers from around the world, and it is far from the only brand to try and get in on this new, buoyant segment of the gadget market.
In addition to rival devices from the likes of Google and Apple which have long since been available, one of the greatest potential threats to Amazon’s smart speaker market share comes in the form of Chinese manufacturer Huawei.
Better known for its mobile phones, such as the P20 Pro and derivations, Huawei is expanding its ambitions to include a wide range of different products. This could make getting multi gadget insurance for several Huawei devices sensible for anyone who is a fan of this particular brand.
Its aims to release a smart speaker were revealed last month, with Pocket Lint reporting that a source from within Huawei had confirmed its intentions to jump on this particular bandwagon. However, there were some interesting reasons behind this project failing to come to fruition.
The Huawei insider said that the firm was not developing a smart speaker on its own, but was involved in a partnership with search giant Google. This would be a sensible move for a number of reasons, chief amongst which is that Google already has a well-known voice assistant with which prospective customers would be familiar. It also has the resources necessary to provide advanced search and shopping functionality, together with smart home control and a range of other capabilities.
Unfortunately, Google was forced to stop its involvement in the project a few months ago when Huawei was hit with a ban by authorities in the US. This ban has since been lifted, but not before it did some fairly significant damage to the firm’s reputation.
Issues surrounding claims of espionage were cited as being the main cause of the hostility expressed towards Huawei by the US government and regulators. Indeed even now, it is still necessary for any American company that wants to engage in collaboration with the firm to procure a license, rather than simply being able to form a partnership under normal commercial terms.
Although Huawei has not yet launched the smart speaker that it hoped to bring to market in 2019, it would be naive to assume that it will never pursue this substantial opportunity.
Worth noting is the fact that Huawei’s smart speaker ambitions have already been realised in a small way. Last year it had an Alexa-powered device ready to be showcased, even though it was never released in the West and was primarily intended as a mobile networking hub rather than a domestic smart device.
For consumers, it would be good to see greater competition in the smart speaker market. The dominance of the largest players means that there is not a huge degree of choice at the moment and even having third party hardware running the same voice-controlled software would be a welcome addition.