China Smart Speaker Sales Surge Puts Baidu, Alibaba, Xiaomi In Reach of Amazon and Google

May 21 2019, 04:15
Sales of Chinese language smart speakers in the first quarter of 2019 grew by more than 500% year-on-year, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics. This lifted global Q1 sales to 25.9 million, a 168% increase on the same period in 2018. The global market shares of Chinese brands therefore rose much closer to Amazon and Google, although the US giants remained in first and second place respectively. Strategy Analytics has now increased its forecast for full-year 2019 global shipments by 10% to 147.7 million units.

Chinese demand was boosted by promotional activities around the Chinese New Year, and Baidu’s Xiaodu Zaijia smart displays proved particularly popular. The $90 (RMB 599) Xiaodu Zaijia speaker was seen as Baidu’s answer to Amazon's Echo Show, the first smart speaker with a 7" from Amazon. But effectively, the XiaoDu ZaiJia was developed since 2015, by a company that was later acquired by Baidu. The device, just like Baidu's other smart speakers and connected TV's, all run DuerOS.

“For the first time China has become the world’s largest market for smart speakers. This was partly because the first quarter is traditionally a period of strong demand, but it also signals the arrival of smart speakers as one of the hottest consumer technologies in China, just as they have been in North America and parts of Europe for the past couple of years. We expect China’s love affair with smart speakers and displays to continue for some time to come,” explains David Watkins, Director at Strategy Analytics. The full report from Strategy Analytics’ Smart Speakers and Screens (SSS) service, Smart Speaker Vendor & OS Shipment and Installed Base Market Share by Region: Q1 2019 can be found here.

"Major Chinese tech players like Alibaba, Baidu and Xiaomi see smart speakers as a key strategic play, just as Amazon and Google have done in western markets. Building mass market voice UI platforms will support the evolution of existing and new digital services as well as driving significant new revenue opportunities. For the moment, the Chinese domestic market is the focus but the time will come when these firms will look elsewhere for growth,” adds David Mercer, Vice President at Strategy Analytics.

A complimentary report highlighting the key findings of Strategy Analytics’ recent consumer survey of early smart speaker adopters is available here.
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