amazon echoAmazon led the smart speaker category during the first quarter of the year with shipments of about 4 million units, according to Strategy Analytics. Though that’s almost half of the total category shipments of 9.2 million units, Amazon’s market share took a hit. It was almost cut in half and dipped below 50% compared to the year-ago period, according to Strategy Analytics data.

The category is broadening. “Amazon and Google accounted for a dominant 70% share of global smart speaker shipments in Q1 2018 although their combined share has fallen from 84% in Q4 2017 and 94% in the year ago quarter,” Strategy Analytics Director David Watkins said in a press release. “This is partly as a result of strong growth in the Chinese market for smart speakers where both Amazon and Google are currently absent. Alibaba and Xiaomi are leading the way in China and their strength in the domestic market alone is proving enough to propel them into the global top five.”

Amazon’s shipments rose 102% — from 2 million to 4 million — between the first quarters of 2017 and 2018, though its market share dipped from 81.8% to 43.6%. The reason that it lost market share despite the strong growth is that Google burst on the scene. Google’s smart speaker share grew 709% during the same period. Google shipped 2.4 million units in 2018 after only moving 300,000 during the first quarter of last year. Its market share grew from 12.4% to 26.5%.

Three new players – Alibaba, Apple and Xiaomi — had 7.6%, 6% and 2.4% of the market, respectively. There may be other new players lurking as the “others” category grew from 5.8% during the first quarter of 2017 to 13.9% this year. The results are good news for the category. Though it is not as dominant, its shipments jumped.

“Further strong growth in smart speaker sales confirms our view that this new market is far more than just a flash in the pan,” Vice President David Mercer said in the release. “Today’s smart speakers are by no means the finished article but they have captured the consumer imagination and we will see rapid evolution in design, functionality and associated use cases over the coming years. We are clearly heading towards to a time in the not too distant future when voice becomes a standard mode of technology interaction alongside established approaches like keyboard, mouse and touchscreen.”

Strategy Analytics is not the only firm who sees a positive future for smart speakers. Last year, Gartner said that the market for speakers enable by virtual personal assistants will grow from $720 million in 2016 to $3.52 billion in 2021.

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