Market momentum for smart speakers shows no sign of slowing — quite the opposite, in fact. A new report published by research firm Canalys indicates that worldwide smart speaker shipments grew 137 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of 2018 to reach 19.7 million units, up from 8.3 million in Q3 2017.
Amazon won the quarter by sales — it managed to get 6.3 million Echo smart speakers onto eager customers’ doorsteps by Q3’s end. But Google rode close on its coattails with 5.9 million Google Home devices shipped.
The quarter marked something of a turnaround for Amazon, which ceded ground to Google in Q2 2018. Strategy Analytics reported in September that the Google Home Mini was the best-selling voice-enabled speaker in the second quarter of 2018, followed by Amazon’s Echo Dot. And in August, Canalys predicted that if Amazon were to remain on its current trajectory, it would see its share of the smart speaker market slip to 34 percent by 2022.
Q3 2018 sales contributed to 30 percent uplift in the domestic smart speaker market, and significant growth in China and the U.K. The U.S. and China — the latter of which saw speaker shipments increase to 5.8 million in Q3 2018 — together took 70 percent of the global market by the end of the quarter.
Amazon nabbed the top spot in terms of global market share with 31.9 percent (up 1.3 percent year-over-year), followed by Google with 29.8 percent (up 187 percent), Alibaba with 11.1 percent, and Xiaomi with 9.7 percent.
Apple’s HomePod yet again escaped mention in Canalys’ report. Previously, the firm indicated that Apple’s Siri-touting speaker was in third place in the U.S., but that it failed to make the top four globally. And in July, it pegged its install base at 4 percent, a figure Canalys expects will grow to 10 percent by 2020.
In China, a new player could threaten to upend the status quo, Canalys said: Baidu. At the company’s Baidu World conference in November, the company announced that DuerOS, its natural language processing platform, is now installed on over 150 million devices and has more than 35 million monthly active users, up from 100 million devices in August.
To be fair, DuerOS hasn’t quite reached the storied heights of, say, Amazon’s Alexa and Alexa Voice Service, which have more than 50,000 third-party apps and 3,500 brands signed on — not to mention compatibility with 20,000 smart home devices.
Canalys forecasts that overall 2018 shipments will clear 75 million in the next few weeks, aided in part by Amazon’s Prime Day and Black Friday.
The number of voice-enabled speakers in use could come close to 100 million by the end of this year (up from 50 million at the end of 2017), some suggest, and early momentum more or less aligns with that prediction.
NPR and Edison Research estimated in July 2018 that 18 percent of American adults — around 43 million people — owned a smart speaker. (Consumer Intelligence Research Partners and Voicebot put the number at 50 million and 47.3 million, respectively.)
The global smart speaker market could be worth as much as $30 billion by 2024, according to Global Market Insights.