Canalys is the latest research firm to update its estimates on the size of the market for smart speakers. Its latest report predicts that the global install-base for these devices will grow from 114m units at the end of 2018 to 207.8m by the end of 2019. That would represent 82.4% growth year-on-year.
The US is expected to account for 42.2% of those devices (so around 87.7m) but it’s mainland China which Canalys sees as the market on the rise: growing from 22.5m units at the end of 2018 to 59.9m at the end of 2019. And even that’s just 13% of estimated fixed-broadband customers in China, leaving plenty more potential growth for the years ahead.
That’s one reason why we should be talking and thinking about Alibaba’s Tmall Genie; Xiaomi’s Xiao AI and Baidu’s family of speakers with its DuerOS voice-assistant as much as we do about the Echo/Alexa, Home/Google Assistant and HomePod/Siri ecosystems in the western world. Something else to think about from Canalys’ latest report: it sees the global smart-speaker install base overtaking wearable bands this year, and tablets in 2021.
Note, the figures around smart speakers can still be confusing and contradictory. For example, a recent report by NPR and Edison Researchsuggested that 118.5m of these devices were being used in US households by the end of 2018 – more than the global figure estimated by Canalys (114m), and a lot more than the latter company predicts will be used in the US by the end of 2019 (87.7m).
eMarketer, meanwhile, recently predicted that 74.2m Americans will use smart speakers in 2019, although that’s a measure of people not devices – so not ‘install base’. It’s wise to remember that all these figures are estimates and predictions, rather than gospel truth. But the trend of continued, impressive growth is something that the firms do agree on.