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Google slips further down the ranks in smart speaker market

New data released from global analyst firm Canalys has revealed Google has moved to the number three spot in the smart speaker market for quarter two 2019, with Baidu claiming the second top spot behind Amazon.

According to research, the global smart speaker market grew 55.4% in Q2 2019 to reach 26.1 million units. Amazon maintained the worldwide lead by shipping 6.6 million units of Echo smart speakers. Baidu, despite only serving the China market, grew 3700% to reach 4.5 million units in Q2 2019, after it reentered the market with Xiaodu devices in Q2 of last year. 

Baidu became the second largest vendor and overtook Google, which shipped 4.3 million in the same quarter. 

China's smart speaker market performance outshone others as the country doubled its quarterly shipment size to 12.6 million units, more than twice as large as the US market which stands at 6.1 million units.

"For Baidu to replace Google to become the world's second largest smart speaker vendor, is no small feat, but bears little significance as both companies operate in mutually exclusive markets," explains Canalys research analyst Cynthia Chen. 

"Aggressive marketing and go-to-market campaigns built strong momentum for Baidu in China. The vendor stood out as a key driver of smart displays, to achieve 45% smart display product mix in its Q2 shipments," she says.

Local network operators' interests on the device 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.

According to Canalys senior analyst Jason Low, the US market showed slight weakness, declining 2.4% with a total of 6.1 million units shipped.

"Amazon and Google are focused on growing their business outside the US," says Low. 

"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," he says. 

"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 US."

Low says vendors are facing the challenge of pivoting to more complex devices in the short term, with most vendors looking to integrate displays. 

"Despite feeling upbeat about the market outlook, vendors are wary about the price sensitivity towards the relatively new category of smart displays," Low says.

"Experimentation with different price points and value propositioning strategies are to be expected. However, uncovering new and unique use-cases with a strong focus on voice-first interface on smart displays should be the top priority for vendors."