Here in the west, with apologies to Siri, Bixby and Cortana, the battle of the smart speaker-bound virtual assistants is very much a two-horse race between Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. Globally, however, it’s a very different picture, according to a new report from Canalys.
The research firm has revealed its second quarter analysis and while globally Amazon Alexa still has the lead, Google Assistant has lost second place to Chinese search giants Baidu.
The scores on the doors:
Amazon – 25.4%
Baidu – 17.3%
Google – 16.7%
Alibaba – 15.8%
Xiaomi – 10.8%
Others – 14.1%
But these numbers only tell half the story, and the other side is more dramatic. Given Baidu jumped from around 100,000 shipments in Q2 2018 to 4.5 million last quarter, that represents year-on-year growth of a jaw dropping 3700%. For comparison, Amazon managed 61.1% growth, and Google actually shrunk by 19.8%.
Related: Google Home vs Amazon Echo
How did the company turn things around so rapidly? Well, it massively recalibrated the market it was targeting. Its first speaker, the Raven H, was targeted at the luxury market, and would cost RMB 1,699 – or around £194. More recently, Baidu has made smart speakers on the considerably cheaper end, with some models going for as little as RMB 89 (~£10) thanks to aggressive discounting.
Should Google be worried? Well, not really on one fairly significant point: the two aren’t direct competitors. Google doesn’t sell smart speakers in China, and Baidu doesn’t sell them outside of the country. But the fact that Baidu can leapfrog Google on the population of a single country will certainly make the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google hope they can find a way of tapping into that market one day.
Should Amazon and Google be worried by the rise of Chinese brands like Baidu, Alibaba and Xiaomi? Let us know what you think on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.