Amazon and Google are generally seen as the front-runners in the smart speaker race, with both companies offering highly capable voice assistants on their devices. But China’s Baidu has reportedly made a big splash by passing Google to take the number two spot.
Baidu only serves the Chinese market but grew 4,500 percent to ship 4.5 million smart speaker/display devices in Q2 2019, according to tracking firm Canalys. By comparison, the firm was estimated to have shipped just 100,000 devices in Q2 2018.
Meanwhile, Google shipped 5.4 million devices in Q2 2018 but only 4.3 million units in Q2 2019. This equates to a decline of 19.8 percent compared to a year ago. Canalys adds that Baidu and Google operate in mutually exclusive markets, so it’s not as if Baidu is stealing regional market-share from Google and vice-versa though.
Amazon was at number one for the quarter, achieving year-on-year growth of over 60 percent. The company shipped 4.1 million units in Q2 2018 and 6.6 million units a year later. Alibaba and Xiaomi were pegged at the number four and five spots for the quarter, with both achieving growth of almost 40 percent compared to a year ago.
The strong performance of Chinese players is solely down to China experiencing a smart speaker boom of sorts, according to Canalys. The tracking company said China doubled its quarterly shipments to 12.6 million units and was over twice as large as the U.S. smart speaker market (6.1 million units).
The U.S. market actually declined by over two percent, with Amazon and Google turning to markets outside the U.S. to grow sales, Canalys senior analyst Jason Low said.
“Google’s transition to the Nest branding while pivoting to smart displays proved to be a challenge, especially as it has begun rolling out its Nest Hub smart display globally,” Low noted. “Google urgently requires a revamped non-display smart speaker portfolio to rekindle consumer interest as well as a robust marketing strategy to build its Nest branding outside of the U.S.”
It looks like Google is indeed working on a revamped smart speaker, with 9to5Google reporting that a Home Mini follow-up is in the works. It’s believed the new smart speaker will offer a 3.5mm port (to plug in headphones, a microphone or speakers), better sound quality, a mount, and potentially a proximity sensor.
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