Analyst: Amazon Echo owns 75 percent of global smart speaker market
Google had beaten Amazon in device shipments in the previous two quarters.
Analyst firm Canalys says that global smart speaker shipments grew 137 percent year over year in the third quarter, reaching 19.7 million units. That was up from less than half that figure (8.3 million) a year ago.
Roughly 75 million devices by year-end. The firm has projected 75 million devices “for the whole of 2018.” It’s not entirely clear whether this is shipments or an estimate of the installed base of smart speaker owners. Previously, Canalys projected global smart speaker ownership would reach 100 million by the end of the year — so it’s likely a downward revision of that earlier estimate.
Canalys also said that Amazon had reclaimed the top position after Google had overtaken it for the previous two quarters.
“Riding on the success of its Prime Day,” the report said, “Amazon shipped 6.3 million Echo smart speakers in Q3, reclaiming the top spot after two quarters of playing second fiddle to Google. This quarter, Google shipped 5.9 million units, putting it just behind Amazon.”
Amazon has 75 percent of the market. According to Canalys, Amazon now has a nearly 75 percent market share to Google’s almost 25, with Chinese companies filling the remaining less than 1 percent. The world’s three largest markets for smart speakers are the U.S., China and the UK, in that order.
It should be noted that there have been meaningful differences in some of the analyst firms’ estimates of market size and market share in the past. One recent illustration of that is Consumer Intelligence Research Partners’ (CIRP) assertion that U.S. smart speaker growth has started to level off. Some of these differences may be due to methodology; Canalys tracks global device shipments, CIRP is using U.S. consumer sampling.
What matters to marketers. To date, smart speakers have helped drive adoption of a wide range of smart home accessories and devices. However, they have failed to materialize as a meaningful marketing or commerce channel, despite past surveys claiming that large percentages of people were buying things on Alexa and Google Home devices.
By the end of the year, with all the discounting now going on, it’s likely that there will be in excess of 60 million of these units in U.S. homes. This is a massive audience and still represents a significant opportunity for brands and marketers if the ecosystem and device capabilities can evolve beyond where they are today.