The four most valuable public companies in the world are, in order, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. Samsung is not too shabby either. The aggregate market cap between these five companies is about the same as the combined market cap of the U.K, and exceeds that of France, Germany, and Canada.
So, what does this $2.7T of market muscle have in common? Well, possibly a bit. But, curiously, one is the purposeful push of their own voice assistant speakers. Amazon led the way in 2014. The rest of the Big 4 made announcements subsequently, and Samsung is rumored to be planning one as well.
Prior to the launch of Amazon Echo, the market for Wi-Fi connected speakers was worth less than $5B. Nowhere near the size to attract the attention of any one of these companies. So, what is the thinking behind these investments? A look at speaker pricing is indicative.
At $349, Apple’s Home Pod is priced, like most things Apple, to make a profit. The voice assistant speaker market is now an attractive, high-growth market. In addition, there is logic to the value of the Home Pod to the Siri, iTunes, Apple TV and HomeKit ecosystem. The pricing of the Cortana speaker, harman/kardon Invoke, is not known yet. But, is likely to share the philosophy of Apple, i.e., to make a profit for Harman International, unless it ends up being subsidized by Microsoft.