The two leading smart speaker manufacturers are going all-in with streaming music services as both Amazon and Google introduce free, ad-supported music streaming options accessible through their voice-activated platforms.
“Customers in the U.S. who do not yet have a Prime membership or a subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited will now be able to listen to an ad-supported selection of top playlists and stations for free with Amazon Music on compatible Alexa-enabled devices,” Amazon announced on Thursday, April 18.
The same day, Google began offering an ad-supported version of YouTube. “Listening to music on your Google Home speaker right out-of-the-box seems too good to be true, right?” the company wrote in a blog post. “It’s not. Starting today, YouTube Music is offering a free, ad-supported experience on Google Home speakers (or other Google Assistant-powered speakers).”
The move to a free music service puts Amazon and Google on the same playing field as Spotify and Pandora, both of which have ad-supported tiers for their streaming services.
The companies remain the top two smart speaker makers in the U.S. In 2018, Amazon owned 71.9% of the market, with Google Home at 18.4%, according to Voicebot. Meanwhile, Canalys is forecasting the worldwide smart speaker installed base will grow 82.4% from 114.0 million units in 2018 to 207.9 million in 2019. The research firm forecasts the number of devices like Google Home, Amazon’s Echo and Apples HomePod will overtake tablets by 2021, when nearly 400 million smart speakers will be in operation.