Amazon, on the other hand, is amping up its presence at the giant tech expo in Las Vegas that kicks off next week. "The US will remain the single most important market for smart speakers in 2018, as shipments are expected to reach 38.4 million units, with China a distant second at 4.4 million units". Google's own Google Assistant will also be in the spotlight - "where there's Alexa, there's likely to be Google Assistant in the mix", writes The Verge in its CES 2018 preview. "At Amazon, we believe that there will be an Alexa skill for everyone, for everything".
The end game for Amazon appears to be to make it really easy to order from Amazon using its smart speakers, and get as many of its smart speakers into homes as possible.
Amazon will also show off its traveling smart home as part of the Smart Life Roadshow it is doing with Intel. Amazon doesn't publish exact figures of device sales, saying only that during the holiday season it sold "tens of millions of Alexa-enabled devices" worldwide including the Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote.
The catch, as you might imagine, is that your ovens and microwaves need to support this feature, and nearly all "smart" versions now don't. GE, Kenmore, LG and Samsung will also sell new products with Alexa. Instead of pressing multiple buttons to enable advanced microwave features, users can simply use their voices. That will allow for commands like "Alexa, microwave for two minutes on high", "Alexa, cook a frozen pizza", or "Alexa, defrost a pound of steak", and have the settings and times adjusted automatically.
Initially, there are four new capability interfaces in the Smart Home Skill API - Alexa.Cooking, Alexa.Cooking.TimeController, Alexa.TimeHoldController, and Alexa.Cooking.PresetController. Still, Canalys expects the market to experience a huge boost this year as hardware vendors, software developers, voice recognition providers and operators join the game, capitalizing on the growing consumer awareness of smart home and artificial intelligence.
But then, Apple wasn't first in the smartphone game either - and we all know how that turned out for the Cupertino company.