Google has dropped to third place in the global smart speaker market, losing its number two spot to Chinese tech company Baidu, which sold a significant number of speakers to customers in its sole market of China.
The Chinese technology giant entered the affordable smart speaker market last June when it launched the 249 yuan ($46 CAD) Xiaodu, having ditched an earlier high-end smart speaker called Raven-H, which cost around 7 times more. Buoyed by the appeal of its new low-cost device, Baidu became a top 3 smart speaker company in Q1 of this year, ahead of Alibaba and Xiaomi. Now for Q2, it has overtaken Google for second place — despite the fact that the Xiaodu is only available to buy in China.
According to a new report from research firm Canalys shows that, in the second quarter of 2019, Baidu’s smart speaker shipments reached 4.5 million units, gaining a 17.3 percent share of the global market, surpassing Google. In the same quarter, the shipments of Baidu smart speakers increased by 3,7 percent year-on-year.
“Aggressive marketing and go-to-market campaigns built strong momentum for Baidu in China, said Canalys Research Advisor Cynthia Chen. “The vendor stood out as a key driver of smart displays, to achieve 45% smart display product mix in its Q2 shipments. Local network operator’s interest in the smart display category soared recently. This bodes well for Baidu as it faces little competition in the smart display category, allowing the company to dominate in the operator channel.”
Amazon is still hanging on to its top spot by a wide margin — more than a 25 percent market share — and shipments reached 6.6 million units in the second quarter of this year.
Meanwhile, Google shipped 5.4 million devices in Q2 2018 but only 4.3 million units in Q2 2019. This equates to a decline of 19.8 percent compared to a year ago. Canalys notes that Baidu and Google operate in mutually exclusive markets, so they aren’t stealing regional market-share from one another.
“Google’s transition to the Nest branding while pivoting to smart displays proved to be a challenge, especially as it has begun rolling out its Nest Hub smart display globally,” Canalys senior analyst Jason Low said in the report. “Google urgently requires a revamped non-display smart speaker portfolio to rekindle consumer interest as well as a robust marketing strategy to build its Nest branding outside of the U.S.”
China, on the other hand, is leading the charge for smart speaker sales. It purchased 12.6 million smart speakers, which was more than double the volume in the United States.