China’s smart speaker market leader Baidu has recently overtaken Google as the second-largest player by shipments in the second quarter of 2019, according to a new report published on Monday by the market analysis firm Canalys. The research firm said in detailed writing that Baidu overtakes Google to get 17.3 percent of the global market with 4.5 million shipments.
But in the second quarter of 2019, it represents a staggering year-on-year growth of 3,700 percent. Amazon remains the overall leader with more than 25 percent of the share of the market and 6.6 million shipments. Moreover, Baidu AI speakers run on an AI platform called DuerOS. The company initially targeted the high end of the market with the Teenage Engineering-designed Raven H speaker.
Apparently, that product has been sold poorly because Baidu has pushed sales of much less expensive models along with the basic Xiaodu speaker selling for as low as 89 yuan. As per the reports, Baidu overtook previous domestic leader Alibaba in the first quarter of this year in China. Google and Baidu are not direct competitors as it sells its products exclusively in its home market whereas Google sells its products almost everywhere but China.
Over the past years, Baidu explosive growth has demonstrated the size and dynamics of the Chinese AI ecosystem. In this regard, last year, CEO Robin Li said in no uncertain terms that Baidu would not be worried by the prospect of Google re-entering China. On the contrary, Google has the edge of being able to address other countries. It has the example of today’s launch of the Nest Hub in India which is another huge market in terms of the smart speaker. The smart display is selling in just 9,999 rupees or about $139.
In another report, Baidu shipped 4.5 million devices during that period while Google shipped 4.3 million. Amazon remained the top player, shipping 6.6 million smart-speakers across the globe. One thing to be mentioned, Baidu’s growth in the quarter also depends upon the aggressive marketing and go-to-market campaigns. It was successful in terms of smart displays which accounted for 45% of the products it shipped.
It shows that Google should redesign the smart speaker portfolio to rekindle consumer interest. The Google devices have not been updated since its launch. Still, it supports the air freshener-style looks it had back in 2016. Plus the Google home mini hasn’t got much more than only a color change. Amazon has updated its Echo line of speakers many times and expanding Alexa to the device with screens like the echo spot and show, even clocks and microwaves as sort of public experiments in voice computing.
Both Amazon and Google have turned their attention to non-US markets in quarter two and also 50% of Amazon’s smart speaker shipments were outside the U.S.