According to the analyst firm Canalys, Baidu has become the second-largest vendor of smart speakers after Amazon, ahead of Google. The news is very unusual because Baidu only serves the Chinese market and seeing it so high on the list may come as a surprise to those outside of China. Its market share in Q2 2019 sat at 17.3% after it shipped 4,500,000 units.
In the same quarter in 2018, Baidu only shipped 100,000 smart speakers, which represented just 0.7% of market share; the annual growth, therefore, was a staggering 3700%. During the second quarter of this year, Amazon and Google shipped 6.6 million (25.4% market share) and 4.3 million units (16.7% market share) respectively. As a whole, China’s smart speaker market outdid other countries with a quarterly shipment size of 12.6 million units, that’s more than double the size of the U.S. market where 6.1 million units were shipped.
Commenting on the findings, Canalys Research Analyst Cynthia Chen, said:
“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. Local network operator’s 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.”
Canalys said that Baidu overtaking Google was “no small feat” but pointed out that they both serve mutually exclusive markets. In China, Alibaba shipped 4.1 million units (15.8% market share) during the second quarter. For Baidu, Alibaba represents a bigger threat than Google due to them vying for the same customers.
As for Google, Canalys said that it has work to do outside the U.S. to make people more familiar with the Nest branding. The analyst also said that Google “urgently” requires a revamp of its non-display smart speakers to bring back consumer interest in its products.