Smart speakers and other Internet of Things devices are likely to become more expensive going forward, The Information reported Wednesday, citing interviews with several industry professionals. One of the main factors expected to start driving up the cost of such offerings will be the very hardware that powers them, with more companies being likely to start emphasizing raw processing capabilities of IoT gadgets moving forward. Google Assistant Product Management Director Gummi Hafsteinsson predicted a future in which smart devices span a much wider variety of categories than they currently do and hence cover a broader range of price points. While that's already true to a degree, with even Google's own artificial intelligence-powered portfolio encompassing products priced at between $30 to $400, the gap is likely to start increasing on the higher end due to the rising power demands of contemporary AI solutions.
Qualcomm and Arm already started arguing for more powerful IoT hardware at the latest iteration of the Consumer Electronics Show held last week in Las Vegas, Nevada, predicting a future in which not all computational needs of smart devices will be handled in the cloud as doing so won't be economically viable. Even though chipmakers are naturally inclined to push for stronger hardware in order to boost their sales, such technologies may have to be adopted by hardware makers that will be looking for new ways to make their products stand out with unique features. While plausible, such a scenario may also lead to a different problem as many consumers may not be willing to make significant financial commitments to expensive smart devices with vast libraries of functionalities they don't expect to use. Save for those with exclusive and "earth-shattering" features, expensive IoT offerings may remain a niche category for the time being even after more of them start hitting the market, Arm's IP Products Group President Rene Haas believes.
The current prices of smart speakers are also believed to be at an all-time low as tech giants such as Google and Amazon remain willing to subsidize their hardware and lose money in the short term in order to drive the adoption rates of their products before they attempt to monetize them through advertising and other means. It's presently unclear when exactly the prices of AI-powered devices may start rising in a noticeable manner but such trend is most likely to begin near the turn of the decade, many industry watchers believe.