Voice Search, Smart Speakers Raise The Bar

Global smart speaker shipments grew 187% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018, and China was the fastest-growing market, with shipments reaching 16.8 million units, according to data released Thursday from Canalys, an analysis and consulting firm.

Google retained its first-place position from the previous quarter, with 5.4 million shipments of its Google Home models. Amazon shipped 4.1 million Echo devices in the quarter, per the data.

Reports from research firms Ovum and Strategy Analytics report slightly different numbers. These reports suggest that while Amazon continues to lead in the smart speaker market, Google is not far behind, according to a couple of reports released this week from analysts' firms. Another report suggests that Google has maintained the lead for the past two quarters.



The Ovum study reveals that Amazon Alexa continues to lead the market in shipments when it comes to artificial intelligence assistants. In the first half of 2018, Ovum benchmarked Amazon Alexa at 5.3, followed by Google Assistant at 5, Apple Siri at 3.4, Microsoft Cortana at 2.4, and Samsung Electronics Bixby at 2.  

Ovum's AI Assistant Tracker: 1H18 benchmark is based on a points system composed of six strategic criteria: skills, language support, user experience, device categories, innovation, and business models.

Amazon and Google rely heavily on the support of partners and developers to build out functions. While Amazon works to create a more engaging user experience by offering personalized features, Google focuses on expanding Google Assistant's international reach, providing more language support and local features, Mariana Zamoszczyk, senior analyst in Ovum's Consumer Services, wrote in a post.

The latest quarterly report from Strategy Analytics agrees with Ovum’s estimates, but also notes that Amazon’s share of smart global shipments fell to 41% in the second quarter of 2018 from 44% in the first and 76% in the second quarter of 2015. Google increased its share to 28%, up from 16%, respectively.

Combined, Amazon and Google in aggregate represent 69% of global smart speaker shipments share in the second quarter of 2018 -- down from about 90% in the year-ago quarter.

The report, Smart Speaker Vendor & OS Shipment and Installed Base Market Share by Region: Q2 2018, also notes that Alibaba finished third with Apple and rounding out the top five.

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