Tuesday, 27 August 2019 02:52

Amazon dominates smart speaker shipments in 2Q 2019, Baidu bumps Google to third in the market Featured

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Amazon Echo smart speaker Amazon Echo smart speaker

Amazon continues to dominate the global smart speaker market by shipping 6.6 million units of Echo smart speakers in the second quarter of 2019, and maintaining its lead over China’s Baidu - which bumped Google down to third spot in the market - the analyst firm Canalys says.

Baidu, despite only serving the China market, grew 3700% to reach 4.5 million units in Q2 2019, after it re-entered the market with Xiaodu devices in Q2 of last year.

Baidu became the second largest vendor and overtook Google which shipped 4.3 million in the same quarter.

Canalys says China's smart speaker market performance outshone others as the country doubled its quarterly shipment size to 12.6 million units, more than twice as large as the US market which stands at 6.1 million units.

“For Baidu to replace Google to become the world’s second largest smart speaker vendor is no small feat, but bears little significance as both companies operate in mutually exclusive markets,” Canalys notes.

“Aggressive marketing and go-to-market campaigns built strong momentum for Baidu in China. The vendor stood out as a key driver of smart displays, to achieve 45% smart display product mix in its Q2 shipments,” said Canalys Research Analyst Cynthia Chen.

“Local network operator’s interests on the device category soared recently. This bodes well for Baidu as it faces little competition in the smart display category, allowing the company to dominate in the operator channel.”

Canalys also reports that the US market showed slight weakness, declining 2.4% with a total of 6.1 million units shipped.

“Amazon and Google are focused on growing their business outside the US,” said Canalys Senior Analyst Jason Low.

“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. 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 US.”

Vendors are facing the challenge of pivoting to more complex devices in the short term, with most vendors looking to integrate displays, Canalys said.

“Despite feeling upbeat about the market outlook, vendors are wary about the price sensitivity towards the relatively new category of smart displays,” Low added.

“Experimentation with different price points and value propositioning strategies are to be expected. However, uncovering new and unique use-cases with a strong focus on voice-first interface on smart displays should be the top priority for vendors.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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