Smart speakers will become the fastest-growing connected device in a market predicted to be worth US$7-billion in 2019, according to Deloitte's 18th edition of Technology, Media and Telecommunications predictions.
The company said smart speakers are continuing to "fly off shelves selling 164 million units at an average selling price of US$43 per unit."
It added that total industry revenues will be up 63%, compared to US$4.3-billion in 2018.
However, the industry will have to overcome looming obstacles to reach its full growth potential. Speech recognition technologies continue to improve, but wider language support will need to be developed for the technology to be inclusive and experience global adoption, Deloitte stated.
Unpacking more of its predictions, the company also said this year companies will further accelerate the use of cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) software and services.
According to Deloitte, among companies using AI, 70% will obtain AI capabilities through cloud-based enterprise software, 65% will create AI applications using cloud-based development services, and by 2020, the penetration rate of enterprise software with AI built in, and cloud-based AI development services will reach an estimated 87% and 83% respectively.
"So far, AI's initial benefits have been predominantly accrued by 'tech giants' with extensive financial resources, strong IT infrastructure, and highly-specialised human capital," says Paul Lee, Head of Global TMT Research. "However, the cloud will power increased efficiencies and better returns on investment, and we expect these benefits to rapidly extend beyond AI's pioneers to the wider enterprise."
Fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks are expected to arrive in scale, providing faster connections for consumers and enterprises, and opening revenue opportunities for telecommunication companies.
According to Deloitte, wireless operators have been pouring resources into 5G network development - in fact, 72 operators are currently testing this offering - and Deloitte forecasts that in 2019, 25 wireless operators will launch 5G service, a figure that will likely double by 2020.
In total, over one million 5G handsets are expected to be sold in 2019, and that number should expand to 15-20 million units by 2020. A further million 5G pucks/modems are also predicted to sell in 2019.
"Wide-scale adoption of 5G devices will take time, but we believe 2019 will be the starting point for sweeping change for the wireless industry," says Lee. "5G can provide hundredfold increases in traffic capacity and network efficiency over 4G, and this has transformative potential on the future of connectivity worldwide."
Additional predictions within the company's annual TMT review include that China will have world-leading telecommunications networks in 2019, and revenues for Chinese-manufactured semiconductors will grow by 25% to US$120-billion, solidifying China as a globally-significant player in manufacturing and AI development.