>> Alexa, turn on the hall lights.>> Alexa, who wins in a price war between Amazon and Google? The answer may be consumers. The loser could be Apple. Both Amazon and Google dramatically slashed the prices for their virtual assistant speaker systems over the holidays. The smallest versions, Amazon's Echo Dot and Google's Home Mini, sold for as little as $29, down from 50 bucks.
At those prices, analysts say the Silicon Valley titans are barely breaking even and are likely losing money on each unit. But they may be betting that losses now will mean greater market share later. The two tech giants are locked in a price war to lock in consumers now before Apple gets its device to market.
Apple failed to ship its $349 HomePod in 2017 as initially planned. The Cupertino company aims to make a profit off the sale of each gadget, and win over subscribers to its $9.99 per month Apple Music service. The cheaper speakers from Google and Amazon don't match the sound quality offered by Apple.
But they're flying off the digital shelves. Amazon said its Echo Dot was the bestselling product over the holiday season. Google did not disclose sales figures for the Home Mini. But the company gave them away to buyers of the new Pixel 2 smartphones, and offered them for $29 at Walmart, Target, and Best Buy.
Amazon currently dominates the emerging market for smart speakers out of China, with Google close behind. Apple may be in trouble. But then again, it wouldn't be the first time Apple has moved into and dominated an already saturated consumer market.