We are used to reading about the travails for Cortana when it comes to user adoption, but when it comes to the digital assistant market there is really no doubt that it is a one-person race, with Amazon’s Alexa well in the lead, leaving even Google’s Assistant and especially Siri eating dust.
In the latest evidence of this, The Information reports that home builders, who are increasingly offering built-in home automation as a selling point in the properties they offer, are swinging heavily in favour of Alexa over Siri.
The Information notes that Apple previously had a deal with US homebuilder Lennar Homes to build Home Kit systems into their properties, but Lennar had to switch to Alexa due to limited device support for Apple’s system. The company is the largest home construction company in the United States based on total revenue and, after D. R. Horton, is the second-largest home construction company by the number of annual home sales.
“Apple also has been targeting home builders. It struck a partnership with Lennar much earlier than Amazon, in mid-2016, to install Apple-powered smart home devices in Lennar homes. But within 18 months, Lennar pivoted to work with Amazon instead. Apple’s HomeKit, the system Apple uses for connected home gadgets, requires most device makers to install a specific authentication chip to work with Apple, and that has significantly limited the number of new devices getting to market.”
Apple has only 62 HomeKit products listed on its website, while Amazon Alexa now integrates with over “4,000 smart home devices from 1,200 unique brands.”
Amazon also has a wide variety of hardware on offer, and another home builder, Shea Homes, is building retirement communities in California with Echo Dot smart speakers installed “directly into ceilings.” Shea Homes is America’s largest privately owned new home builder, primarily building mid-priced to high-end homes.
“Apple is closed source about what will talk to their system, so we shied away from it. I don’t want to restrict what I think the future could be because I have no idea what it will be,” noted Arizona-based luxury home builder Meritage Homes’s vice president CR Herro. “Google, like Apple, ‘wasn’t ready for prime time,’” he continued, saying he plans a “substantial relationship with Amazon” in the future.
While some builders are opting for HomeKit, they can not match the scale of the roll-out of Alexa-powered homes by these major construction companies. The success of Alexa with home builders, in general, reflect their adoption by the market, with Amazon having around 70% market share in the USA, and home builders are betting that it is more likely than not that buyers would already be familiar and have a preference for Alexa over Siri and Google Assistant.
While Apple has been very slow to roll out new Siri-powered products, Amazon has been aggressive at introducing new devices, capabilities and form factors, firming up their early market lead. With the Apple HomePod having failed to excite buyers so far, it appears all Siri can do is say “Goodbye” to the home automation market.