The apps and platforms space is primed for a transformational 2018. The growth of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered voice assistants in 2017 will alter consumer behaviors in the year ahead. App store ecosystems, in search of more robust and reliable revenue streams, will shift to favor higher-quality content. Global digital usage will change as the "next billion" from emerging markets come online for the first time via mobile devices. And smartphones will continue to become less of a central hub in developed markets, as new hardware like connected speakers, and virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets, continue to chip away at their dominance over digital. Below are our top predictions for the apps and platforms market as these trends, and more, unfurl throughout 2018. These predictions are based on our ongoing tracking, analysis, and forecasting of the apps and platforms market, and conversations with industry executives.

1. Amazon will lose its dominance in the voice assistant space. Amazon took a commanding lead in the US voice assistant market in 2017, and its line of Alexa-enabled devices account for about 70% of the smart speakers sold in 2017, according to Strategy Analytics. However, its early lead will be challenged as competition picks up steam. Major competitors will diminish, if not eliminate, Amazon’s speaker lead in 2018:

  • Google Home, Google’s voice-controlled smart speaker that runs its AI-powered Google Assistant, accounted for 24% of the smart speakers sold in the US in 2017, but it's well suited to grow that share in part thanks to the 80% of Android phones that run Google Assistant.
  • Apple’s HomePod smart speaker device running Siri hasn’t come to market yet, but will undoubtedly steal market share from Amazon when it does. The Apple effect — a noticeable uptick in device and tech adoption for both Apple products and those of competing brands whenever Apple launches a new version of an existing technology — will likely catalyze overall adoption of smart speakers while propelling its own smart speaker to the forefront. There are already 70 million Americans, 33% of the adult US population, interested in buying Apple's HomePod, according to survey results from Morning Consult

One of the major [...]