Four conclusions about the smart speaker market

The fever of intelligent (or better said, connected) loudspeakers has already spread among Anglo-Saxon users, and while waiting for the global conquest of the phenomenon, the data for the first quarter of the year show interesting conclusions.

The first that the segment is boiling. The second, that Amazon and Google absolutely dominate the market. The third, that Apple does not seem to finish wanting to enter this battle. And the fourth, as in the segment of smartphones, beware of the Chinese. Let’s go there.

Many people want a smart speaker

Where smart watches failed, it seems that smart speakers are triumphing. These accessories have become a proposal that is interesting for many users, especially now that voice assistants are more settled than ever.

The phenomenon has been consolidated in recent times, and the data from Strategy Analytics show that the success of smart speakers is overwhelming in the regions where these products are available.

In fact, being available with voice assistants only in the English language has meant that the sales of these devices are only a fraction of what they can become when the support in other languages becomes massive.

Failing to do so, it seems clear that the growth of the market is sensational: four times more smart loudspeakers have been distributed (not to be confused with “sold”) in the first quarter of 2018 than in the same period of 2017.

Amazon dominates, but Google is strong behind

The amazing Amazon Echo that drove the adoption of these products have convinced the entire industry that this was a juicy sector. That first device has given Amazon an important competitive advantage, but that advantage is running out.

This is shown by the growth of Google, which has multiplied the distributed units of its family of Google Home solutions by 8, while Amazon “only” has doubled the number of units distributed from its Amazon Echo smart products catalog.

In fact it is the first time that Amazon falls below 50% share in this market since it is tracked, but still the domain of both manufacturers is huge: of every 10 smart speakers sold, almost 7 of they are from one of these two manufacturers.

Both Amazon and Google will offer their voice assistants and other countries throughout this year, and it is likely that next year at this point we are talking about a growth of distributed units equally notable in this segment.

Apple is in another war

Meanwhile Apple seems not to be especially interested in this market. The technological giant launched its expected HomePod in February 2018, but it did so with more orientation to the audiophile than to the user of voice aids.

In fact the inclusion of Siri is almost testimonial in that device, and the truth is that Apple’s voice assistant seems to have been far behind if one contemplates Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, perhaps not as powerful in artificial intelligence but especially versatile thanks to their ‘skills’.

And there we have the HomePods, a bit in no man’s land and with a discreet success. Since its launch – nearly half of the quarter has been lost – 600,000 units have been distributed according to Strategy Analytics data.

They do not seem like too many, but they said the same about the Apple Watch when they launched and look at the smartwatch market right now. It will be better to give Apple the benefit of the doubt, because the HomePod just appeared and although they do not compete exactly with the products of Amazon or Google, they are the logical alternative for users of the Apple ecosystem.

Beware, the Chinese are coming

This report also surprises the presence of Alibaba in third place. The Chinese giant of electronic commerce has devices like the Tmall Genie X1that sold at scandal price that ‘Singless Day’ on November 11, 2017. The speaker had an official price of $79, but that day they sold it for $15. Can you imagine how many sold?

Some believe in fact that the sales of this device is much higher than those estimated in Strategy Analytics, and in fact sold more than one million units in just 4 months since its launch.

The Chinese market is as always another world and it is difficult to put dimension , but in independent analyzes appear other devices ocmo Raven H of Baidu that was presented at CES 2018 – attentive to the playful design- but that was already on sale in China months ago, and it seems to be quite successful.

Those competitors are now joined by Xiaomi, who with his Yeelight – which by the way, uses Alexa and blatantly copies the Echo Dot – has entered fully into that battle and is according to Strategy Analytics the fifth leading manufacturer with 200,000 units distributed in this quarter by the 700,000 Alibaba according to that data.

That growth of these manufacturers could therefore threaten the comfortable position of Google and Amazon, and as we say everything is to be seen while waiting for these devices to start offering support for other languages beyond English.

Things can change a lot in this area, but in any case it seems that smart speakers have a great future ahead even when the risks to our privacy can worry us.

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