Amazon shipped 15.8 million smart speakers in Q4 2019 capturing a 28.3% device market share and the top spot globally
Google followed Amazon with a 24.9% share, well ahead of third-place Baidu with a 10.6% share
The largest Chinese smart speaker makers increased shipments by 137% over Q4 2018 and collectively shipped more devices than Amazon in Q4 2019 which a year earlier had more than doubled the trio’s totals
Apple also saw modest market share gains though is well behind all of its U.S. and Chinese rivals
Amazon and Google dominated global smart speaker sales in Q4 2019 combining to sell over half of the 55.7 million devices sold in the quarter according to U.S.-based research firm Strategy Analytics. That is a 44.7% rise in global device sales over Q4 2018. With 15.8 million devices shipped and 28.3% market share, Amazon maintained its nearly unbroken lead in global smart speaker shipments by quarter. Google delivered 13.9 million devices in Q4 and a 24.9% global share.
Strategy Analytics also pointed out that 2019 brought record-setting smart speaker shipments totaling 146.9 million units. That was up 70% from about 86 million units in the full year 2018. What was the catalyst behind the record-setting quarter and year? David Watkins, a director and analyst at Strategy Analytics commented:
“Consumer appetite for smart speakers remained undimmed during the all-important Q4 period as newly launched devices with improved feature sets and audio performance helped drive record quarterly shipments. Consumers across the world were once again enticed by scarcely believable deals from leading brands such as Google, Amazon, Baidu and Alibaba, while Google in particular stepped up its giveaway promotional activity in partnership with brands such as YouTube and Spotify.”
Despite Amazon’s and Google’s strong sales performance, both lost market share in the quarter compared to the previous year. Amazon fell from 35.5% to 28.3% and Google from 30.0% to 24.9%. “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,” said David Mercer, a vice president at Strategy Analytics. “However, their shares fell slightly in both regions, confirming our user research findings that buyers are prepared to invest in other brands.”
SMART CHINA RISING
The next three global leaders in smart speaker shipments are all from China and each saw a rise in device market share. Baidu, Alibaba, and Xiaomi together shipped 16.1 million smart speakers in Q4 2019. That combined figure is up 137% over Q4 2018. In that quarter, the three Chinese smart speaker leaders collectively shipped only about 50% of the devices from Amazon but in 2019 they shipped about 2% more. No Chinese company alone sold nearly what Amazon and Google did in Q4 2019. However, growth rates for the big three from China ranged from 94% – 171% compared to 16% and 20% for Amazon and Google respectively.
Chinese device makers individually shipped about one-third that of Amazon. In Q4 2018, that figure was closer to one-sixth. Continued growth in China is likely to shrink this gap further in 2020. However, it may not have much impact on Amazon directly since the company doesn’t sell smart speakers in China and the Chinese device makers are not marketing devices with their own voice assistants where Amazon Alexa devices are sold. It is worth noting that Xiaomi is even partnering with Amazon, Google, and Apple to offer Alexa, Assistant, and Siri to consumers in India through its latest smart speaker.
Apple also saw growth in 2019. Smart speaker shipments from the iPhone maker in Q4 2019 were up by one million units over the previous year and that helped HomePod’s market share bump up from 4.1% to 4.7%. It’s not the type of market share Apple commands for iPhone, Watch, and AirPods, but it is good news for the company given the 65% growth rate despite offering a device with fewer voice assistant features.