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Amazon shows off its new devices. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)

A new study sheds some light on why tech companies across the world are in the midst of a digital assistant arms race and battling to build the best smart speakers.

The report, from U.K.-based Juniper Research, claims that more than 70 million U.S. households, representing 55 percent of all the nation’s homes, will have a smart speaker like an Amazon Echo or Google Home by 2022. Overall, Juniper expects global sales of 256 million smart speakers by 2022.

The report also points to a trend of devices that support multiple assistants — think a Siri powered-iPhone with the Amazon Alexa app — and the need for tech giants to cooperate to make their digital brains work together. We have already seen evidence of this with the recent partnership between Amazon and Microsoft that will see Alexa and Cortana begin “talking to each other” by the end of the year, letting each voice assistant’s users leverage the unique capabilities of the other.

Despite the trend of smart speakers, Juniper predicts that smartphones, with more than 5 billion in use globally by 2022, will continue to be the dominant medium for voice assistants.

The Google Home and Google Home Mini. (Best Buy Photo)

Today, Amazon is the leader in the smart speaker market, capturing a 73 percent market share with Google as its primary opposition. But the field is about to get a lot more crowded.

Apple’s HomePod device comes out in December. Microsoft’s Cortana made her smart speaker debut last month, powering the $199 Harman Kardon Invoke. Tech giants Samsung and Alibaba, among others, also recently released their own smart speakers.

As the competition heats up, Amazon and Google have recently expanded their catalogs of smart speakers. In September, Amazon announced a next generation Echo, a new smart home-focused Echo Plus and more.

Google’s $49 Home Mini, the search giant’s answer to the pint-sized Echo Dot, hit the streets last month. And in December, Google will release the $399 Google Home Max, a larger, more powerful smart speaker similar to the HomePod.

Juniper predicts that digital assistants could be big moneymakers for tech giants, with advertising as the biggest revenue stream. The firm forecasts a $19 billion voice-based advertising pie by 2022.

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