The global smart speaker market surged in the second quarter as China became the growth engine, accounting for 52 per cent of shipments growth compared with 16 per cent from the US.
Data from Canalys showed the smart speaker market grew 187 per cent year-on-year in Q2, with shipments reaching 16.8 million units. Alibaba and Xiaomi came out of nowhere to take third and fourth positions (see chart right, click to enlarge).
Amazon, which basically owned the market in Q2 2017 with an 82.3 per cent share, suffered a 14 per cent drop in shipments year-on-year, while Google maintained the leading position it took during Q1 with a 32.3 per cent share in the recent quarter.
Canalys said both companies rely heavily on the US, which accounted for 68 per cent of Amazon’s shipments and 58 per cent for Google.
Alibaba maintained a 50 per cent market share in China, shipping 3 million Tmall Genie speakers. Xiaomi scaled up quickly with the release of its Mini AI smart speaker, shipping 2 million units. Combined, the companies accounted for nearly 90 per cent of China’s smart speaker shipments.
Research analyst Hattie He said: “Alibaba and Xiaomi have both relied on aggressive price cuts to create demand. Both companies have the financial backing to spend on marketing and hardware subsidies in a bid to quickly build their user bases. Although the real level of user demand for speaker products is currently unproven, China is on its way to overtake the US in the near term.”
Senior analyst Jason Low noted use cases for smart speakers are extending beyond the smart home: “Many players, including Amazon, are integrating smart speakers into verticals, such as hotels, retail, hospitals and other business establishments.”
He added vendors are experimenting with new form factors and functionalities, citing moves by South Korean operators to integrate smart speaker functionality into set-top boxes, or add lifestyle and entertainment services to IPTV services.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back