Amazon Alexa

Big Tech giants battle for smart speaker dominance

3 smart speakers from tech giants Google, Amazon and Apple
Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod. Photo: John Brecher for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Eager for a place in the home, tech giants are beefing up their smart speaker products, hoping to find just the right combination of screens, speakers and features that will stick with consumers.

Why it matters: There's a lot of potential in the smart speaker market, especially for the big companies like Google and Facebook whose traditional advertising streams face slowed growth projections. But balancing privacy concerns with enough functionality to attract users is proving to be tricky.

How Amazon will take over your house

Illustration of an Amazon box house with a spotlight on it
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In recent years, Amazon has made a series of investments, acquisitions and R&D moves in the smart home industry. None seemed particularly consequential on its own, but with a real estate deal last week, Amazon appears to have captured first-mover advantage in one of the most important new industries on the planet.

Why it matters: With the deals, Amazon has taken a pioneering lead in what has come to be called "surveillance capitalism," which includes some of the biggest businesses of the future, like 5G, autonomous vehicles and smart cities. Now, the behemoth, with its edge in this new economy, is positioned to explode its revenue.