The smart speaker market has seen a massive shift in buyer preferences, with the Google Home series of speakers now outselling the Amazon Echo range. According to a study by Canalys, Google shipped 5.4 million units of the Google Home series in Q2 2018, ahead of Amazon’s 4.1 million shipments of its Echo series of smart speakers. Alibaba and Xiaomi rank third and fourth in shipment numbers, driven by strong sales in China.
Google’s growth in the segment is made all the more noteworthy by the fact that till before Q1 2018, Amazon was the undisputed leader of the space. This has more to do with Google’s better support for global languages through its Google Assistant, which powers the Google Home series. Meanwhile, Amazon’s Alexa remains focused on the US market, with slowly growing support in other English-speaking countries. Google can also credit strong pricing, better availability and stronger advertising in key global markets, including India.
The Google Home and Amazon Echo series are both available in India, with the former having been launched in April this year, while the latter was launched in late 2017. The Google Home is priced at Rs 9,999, while the Google Home Mini retails at Rs 4,499, although both are often subject to big discounts that see the price drop to as low as Rs 7,999. On the other hand, the Amazon Echo Dot sells at Rs 4,099, the Echo at Rs 8,999, Echo Spot at Rs 12,999 and the Echo Plus retails at Rs 14,999.
The Google Home owes its better performance in India to offline availability, plus the widespread use of Android smartphones in India. Google Assistant also boasts of better and more topical voice assistance in India, plus better understanding of the Indian accent.
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Just a year ago, Amazon held 82 percent of the global market for smart speakers, while Google held 17 percent. Part of the reason for this has been the fact that Amazon had first-mover advantage, having launched its Echo range in 2014. Google launched the Google Home two years later in 2016, and took longer to build market share. Other players including Chinese manufacturers and Apple have since launched their options, thus widening the scope of the segment.