- On November 28, 2018
Table of content
- A(very) quick guide to the voice speakers of China
- Smart speaker market revenue worldwide in 2017 and 2022 (in B USD)
- What does this all mean?
In 2017, the global market revenue for smart speakers reached 4.4B USD. According to Statista, this number is expected to rise to almost 18B USD by 2022. While we tend to think of Alexa or Google home assistants as the primary digital assistants, there are some other big players that should not be forgotten; enter China. Canalys reports that in Q2 2018, 52% of sales volume growth of smart speakers came from China. Juniper research predicts that this is only the beginning, as the Chinese smart home market is expected to grow to almost 23 Bn USD by the end of 2018, with the integration of smart speakers and AI voice assistants. It should hardly come as a surprise then, that as the second largest economy in the world, China is among the biggest players in the global speaker market.
Baidu, Alibaba, Xiamoni and Tencent have positioned themselves as China’s AI leaders across various industries; Baidu, Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings have grown tremendously, with combined revenues of about 87.3B USD. From the automotive industry to the healthcare sector, these companies are driving change in their home country even if they have not yet reached our part of the world.
Here’s what you need to know about the 4 largest Voice Speaker players in China:
In 2018, Baidu- operator of the most popular search engine in China- released the Raven H, a smart speaker with a striking design, establishing itself as another player in the field of digital assistants. The colourful and stylish device is the result of Baidu’s Swedish partner, “Teenage engineering,” renowned for their creativity and innovation. The device allows for the top to be detached, giving access to a LED touch screen controller that flips and uses a voice-based remote to control your smart home.
The smart speaker can connect to services like Baidu Music and iQiyi, a video platform controlled by Raven H that can be linked to a connected smart TV.
Currently dominating the Chinese search engine market (with an 80% market share) Baidu is now working on expanding to new South Asian markets by applying for patents in both Korea and Japan.
eCommerce giant Alibaba Group developed the Tmall Genie which uses the smart voice assistant AliGenie. The smart speaker offers the same basic functionalities as other smart home devices like the Amazon Echo, including smart home control, music, news and weather. It is very similar to Alexa, in that shoppers are able to place purchase orders through voice command directly on Alibaba’s eCommerce platform.
Aiming to make advancements in the industry, the company is hoping to integrate their smart speakers with the automotive industry, recently reporting deals with Mercedes, Audi and Volvo.
Chinese electronics company Xiaomi released the “Mi Al” smart speaker in late 2017. In addition to its function as a personal assistant telling the weather and playing music, MiAl is designed to be the hub for all of Xiaomi’s smart home products which the company claims includes 60 million connected devices ranging from rice cookers to lamps and vacuum cleaners. It offers a six-microphone array that enables your voice to be heard from up to 16m away. Possibly the most attractive part of this device is the price- at $45, it is considerably cheaper than its competitors.
An internet and entertainment conglomerate, Tencent officially launched its first smart speaker, Tingting, in early 2018. Although its design is not unlike many other smart speakers, the Tingting is portable and offers a battery life of up to 16 hours; 5 hours in wi-fi mode and 6 hours in Bluetooth mode. Tingting quickly gained traction in the market thanks to its access to almost 1 billion WeChat users (WeChat is an app the equivalent of Whatsapp andFacebook in China). The speaker is expected to provide access to WeChatservices, such as sending messages by voice command.
The Chinese smart speaker market has evolved into a competitive battlefield where it has become more difficult for small players to earn market share.
As for Amazon and Google, it appears that for now, they are not making their way into the Chinese market. With Catalys analysts reporting that the smart speaker adoption patterns in China are similar to the US, and Google planning a re-entry into the Chinese market, it will be very interesting to see the evolution of the smart speaker.
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