Shipments of smart speakers grew by a whopping 169% in 2018, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. In figures released yesterday, it claims that shipments of these devices grew from 32m units in 2017 to 86.2m in 2018. The company estimates that more than 60 million households globally now own at least one smart speaker.

Music Ally has been crunching the numbers for Strategy Analytics’ four quarterly reports from 2018, to gauge the performance of the respective smart-speaker makers. The numbers suggest that Amazon shipped 29.7m Echo smart speakers in 2018, with Google shipping 22.3m Google Homes. Third place goes not to Apple’s estimated 4m HomePod shipments last year, but to Baidu with its 6.5m shipments.

In the fourth quarter of the year – the biggest by far for sales of these devices – Amazon accounted for 35.5% of global shipments and Google 30%, followed by Alibaba (7.3%), Baidu (5.7%), Xiaomi (4.6%) and then Apple (4.1%). The low-priced Echo Dot and Google Home Mini were the keys to Amazon and Google’s market-share success, although (as in other device categories) Apple’s focus on a premium-priced product will have seen it take a bigger share of actual sales revenues.

One more point: how are smart displays – smart speakers with screens, like the Echo Show – doing? Not that bad. “Smart displays made up more than 10% of total shipment demand in Q4 2018 and they are expected to be a significant driver of growth in the market through 2019,” said Strategy Analytics’ director David Watkins. Sales of Facebook’s Portal devices didn’t register in the Q4 figures outside the ‘other’ category, but perhaps we’ll get more data on how they’re shifting (or not) come the end of Q1 2019, given that they only launched in November.

EarPods and phone

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