In 2019, Amazon and Google ceded smart speaker market share to Chinese rivals, according to a survey by Strategy Analytics. The firm reports that of the 146.9 million units sold in the year 2019 — an increase of 70% compared with 2018 — Amazon Alexa-powered speakers made up 26.2% (roughly 38.5 million units), down from 33.7% (49.5 million) in 2018. For their part, Google Assistant smart speakers nabbed a 20.3% share (29.8 million), down from 25.9% (38 million) the year prior.
On the other hand, Baidu, Alibaba, and Xiaomi all increased their smart speaker market shares in 2019, while Apple retained its sixth-place position with 4.7% (6.9 million). Strategy Analytics Vice president David Mercer attributed the shift to weak demand for Amazon and Google speakers in North America and Europe as buyers “invest[ed] in other brands.”
“In 2019, Amazon and Google retained their strong leadership positions in North America and Europe, where they accounted for more than three quarters of all smart speaker sales,” he said. “However, their shares fell slightly in both regions … Competing vendors must focus resources on specific smart speaker customer segments and use cases in order to maximize revenues and profitability.”
Q4 2019 saw a new record of 55.7 million units sold, driven by what Strategy Analytics characterizes as “strong” sales in the U.S. and Europe and a recovery in Google’s business following the debut of products like the Nest Hub Max, improved components supply, and promotional activity. Indeed, Amazon shipped an estimated 15.8 million units during the period, a 16% year-over-year increase. Google shipped 13.9 million (up 20% year-over-year), while Baidu shipped 5.9 million (up 171%); Alibaba shipped 5.5 million (up 94%); Xiaomi shipped 4.7 million (up 167%); and Apple shipped 2.6 million (65%).
In a Canalys report in November, senior analyst Jason Low attributed Amazon’s relatively strong showing to its recently introduced Echo Upgrade Program, which lets users trade in old Echo or non-Echo Bluetooth speakers for newer models at a discounted price. He added that Alibaba’s Tmall Genie devices likely performed well partly because of Alibaba’s collaborations with brands like Starbucks, Budweiser, Abbott, Oreo, and others, which set them apart from products from Baidu and Xiaomi.
Of course, it’s worth noting that while Baidu might ship as many devices as its competitors, its DuerOS natural language platform continues to grow at an exponential rate. The install base recently passed 400 million as voice queries topped 3.6 billion, up from 150 million voice queries last November and 100 million last August (when DuerOS reached the 800 million-query mark).
In April, Canalys predicted that the U.S. will retain its smart speaker installed base lead but that China, South Korea, and Japan will see 166% growth (from about 20 million units to 59.9 million units), 132% growth, and 131% growth, respectively. Elsewhere, it’s projecting Canada’s smart speaker market will grow 80%, followed by Germany’s installed base with 49% growth and the U.K.’s with 47%.