The IoT continued its inexorable march into the home and the workplace through 2018. Having established itself as the hub of the smart home, the smart speaker is now becoming a central device for orchestrating a consumer’s digital life, while in the enterprise space, companies are preparing for the advent of 5G and looking for new ways to leverage developing AI capabilities. Based on these developments, our proprietary research, and the trends we're watching headed into 2019, here are our top five predictions for the IoT in the year ahead: 

1. Google will work with partners to put Assistant-enabled microphones in all sorts of devices around the home. Amazon started to work with partners to create new ways to access Alexa more than a year ago, inking partnerships with companies like GE to make lamps and other products that feature the voice assistant. These devices are embedded with microphones that listen for commands aimed at Alexa. In 2018, Amazon also added devices like the Echo Wall Clock and the Amazon Basics Microwave with Alexa, with the goal of putting Alexa in enough devices to always be within earshot. Google and Amazon are vying for the lead in the US smart speaker space, as well as the broader AI-powered voice assistant category, and Google boasts a major advantage in terms of total Assistant-enabled devices, thanks to the hundreds of millions of Android devices in use globally. But Amazon far surpasses the search company in fixed device installations. In response, Google will follow suit and find partners to build its own companion devices to expand the listening capabilities of its Google Assistant ecosystem. Google will introduce these listening devices to improve Assistant's omnipresence — even when the consumer doesn't have their phone on them — to try to keep pace with Amazon and stop the e-commerce titan from becoming the default vendor in the smart speaker and voice assistant space. 

2. Smart speaker prices will hit $20 for the newest models. This holiday season saw smart speaker prices sink as low as they ever had, with the newest versions of the Echo Dot and the Google Home Mini dropping to $29 — and prices were even lower for older devices [...]