China’s smart speaker shipments grow over 1,000% annually

China’s smart speaker shipments grow over 1,000% annually
Thanks to low prices and heavy discounting, smart speaker sales in China saw meteoric rise over the past year, according to a report released by Strategy Analytics.

Alibaba shipped 2.2 million smart speakers in the third quarter, up from 100,000 units in the same period last year, growing a staggering 1,692%. Another tech giant Xiaomi shipped 1.9 million units, up from 100,000 a year ago, registering a growth rate of 1,800%. Baidu also shipped 1.9 million smart speakers. The company just launched its first entry-level smart speaker in June.

Overall global smart speaker shipments grew nearly 200% annually to reach 22.7 million units in the third quarter. The top sellers are still Amazon and Google, which shipped 7.2 million and 5.2 million units, respectively, up from 5 million and 1.9 million a year ago. Amazon registered a growth rate of 45% while Google recorded a much higher growth of 174%. Google performed particularly strong in Western Europe, where it has got the first-mover advantage in France, Italy and Spain.

For now Amazon still has the largest 31.6% global smart speaker market share (despite dropping from 64.8% a year ago due to competition) followed by Google’s 22.7%, Alibaba’s 9.5%, Baidu’s 8.4%, Xiaomi’s 8.4% and Apple’s 4.8%. The iPhone maker sold the least 1.1 million units.

China has rapidly emerged this year as the second largest market for smart speakers after the USA and is forecast to see a twelve-fold annual increase in shipments for 2018, said David Watkins, Director at Strategy Analytics. “Low prices and heavy discounting has been a key driver of growth for Alibaba and Xiaomi in China and so Baidu’s move makes clear its ambition to rapidly scale is DuerOS voice platform in the home.”

As consumer appetite for voice activated smart speakers and screens continues to soar, smart speakers’ global shipments may reach a total of 90 million in 2018, Strategy Analytics predicts.

The research institute forecast that the number of smart speakers in use globally will crash through the 100 million unit barrier this month and exceed 125 million by the end of the year.

"The market has reached this key milestone faster than pretty much any other consumer technology device to have launched over the past decade," said David Mercer, Vice President at Strategy Analytics. “Consumer research shows that voice-first products have well and truly dropped any gimmick status they may have had and are becoming a permanent fixture in many homes.”

American consumers have been the main early adopters. Ownership in the country will reach 30% of homes in 2018, while the ownership will reach 7% in Western Europe, Strategy Analytics predicts.

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