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Global Smart Speaker Sales Hit 11.7 Million Earlier This Year — But What About Voice Activation Usage?

The Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot accounted for a combined 38 percent of global shipments in Q2 as Apple's HomePod continued to lag, says Strategy Analytics.

Holiday season 2017 might have produced a significant jolt to voice activated smart speaker sales from Google and Amazon, but consumers’ interest was no temporary blip, a study of Q2 shipments by Strategy Analytics shows.

Strategy Analytics found that global smart speaker shipments hit 11.7 million units in Q2 2018. And while Amazon had more than a year’s head start with the Echo’s Alexa, the Google Home Mini has been rapidly catching up, becoming “the world’s best-selling smart speaker during the quarter” followed closely by Amazon’s Echo Dot, Strategy Analytics said in its report, Global Smart Speaker Shipments, Wholesale Revenue, ASP by Model and Price Band: Q2 2018.

The Sound Of Money

Meanwhile, speaking of catching up, Apple’s HomePod is coming up on its first birthday. Though it did not feature in the top-five ranking by shipments, according to Strategy Analytics, it did top the market value rankings with 16 percent share of wholesale revenues.

And ultimately, revenues are what will ultimately count as developers focus their attention on where their tools will get the most pickup.

“Unsurprisingly, Amazon and Google models dominated the best-selling list of smart speakers in Q2 2018,” wrote David Watkins, director of Strategy Analytics’ Smart Speaker service. “The Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot accounted for a combined 38 percent of global shipments although they contributed just 17 percent towards the value of the market due to their low price.

“Apple on the other hand has focused its smart speaker efforts at the premium end of the market, promoting the HomePod’s audio prowess ahead of the device’s voice control capabilities,” Watkins added. “Apple took a 6 percent share of shipments in Q2 2018 but it is the market leader in terms of revenue with 16 percent share and holds a dominate 70 percent share of the small but growing $200+ premium price band.”

Source: eMarketer

What It Means For Voice Usage

As several recent studies have shown, smart speaker owners are committed users. These devices do not tend to sit idle, like a lot of hyped consumer electronics have over the years.

In contrast to other tech that were rejected after a short period of media attention, the primary advantage of voice activated smart speakers have versus previous “hot products” is that are not nearly as expensive as products like 3D TV.

But more than that, the use cases of voice activation  are clear, simple, and expanding. As these devices proliferate, voice-activated searches and commands are becoming more mainstream.

Certainly, with all the complaints about auto-correct, voice provides an easy alternative to texting when a user is walking or performing other tasks with their hands. In fact, an estimated 40 percent of searches by U.S. adults today are spoken.

In the third Smart Audio Report by Edison and NPR (read our coverage of the first and second reports), the evolution of the voice activation use cases have only started to take shape.

The Edison/NPR report described the “new smart speaker owners”  as a distinct audience in terms of user profile and behavior. And that behavior with respect to smart speakers is changing rapidly.

Previous Edison/NPR reports — among others — suggested that the primary use for smart speakers revolved around accessing news, weather, and music playing.

While that may seem limited, the use cases will quickly emerge as more players enter the smart speaker space.

“The number of smart speaker models available worldwide has grown significantly over the last twelve months as vendors look to capitalize on the explosive market growth,” said David Mercer, a VP at Strategy Analytics who also worked on the report. “Heavyweight brands such as  become of critical importance for all interested parties. Strategy Analytics’ world-leading smart speaker service is designed to help companies take a deep-dive into the granular issues of this fast-changing market.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.