While global sales for smart speakers are still relatively small, the growth for the new technology segment is quite impressive. Though there are no official numbers by the verndors themselves, two research firms have reported more than 200 percent year-on-year growth in Q1 2018. According to Canalys, the market grew by 210% with nine million units sold.
The biggest players are Amazon and Google which took the top spot for the first time: 3.2 million of Google Home and Home Mini devices have been sold in Q1 2018, compared to 2.5 million Echo devices shipped by Amazon.1 Google’s biggest advantage lies in the nature of Amazon as a channel. Many retailers see Amazon as a direct competitor and therefore prefer the Google products.
Strategy Analytics reports a similar total sales number of 9.2 million devices but still sees Amazon in first place: 4 million Echo devices compared to 2.4 million by Google.2 Main markets are the United states, followed by China and South Korea. Both reports agree that Alibaba finished third overall and is the number one in China, followed by Xiaomi. “Awareness of smart speakers and their uses is growing steadily among Chinese consumers. But competition is building quickly for Alibaba, as IPO-hopeful Xiaomi takes to the smart speaker segment with much vigor in 2018.”3
But what about Europe? According to a Bloomberg article, reception is still quite slow. Europeans seem to be more worried about privacy and the safety of their personal data than people in the U.S. – the Cambridge Analytics scandal and the General Data Protection Regulation increased the interest in that topic even further. The big questions is – do the benefits of the smart home devices outweigh the privacy issues enough to justify their usage? As of now, the answer in Europe seems to be no.
1 Canalys | Google beats Amazon to first place in smart speaker market | May 23 2018 | URL 2 Strategy Analytics | Amazon’s Global Smart Speaker Share Falls Below 50% in Q1 2018 as Competition Heats Up | May 17 2018 | URL 3 Hattie He, Canalys Research Analyst | Google beats Amazon to first place in smart speaker market | May 23 2018 | URL