Market research firm Canalys reported that Amazon shipped three times the number of smart speaker/display units as Google in the third quarter of 2019. According to the company, Google was responsible for 3.5 million units compared with Amazon’s 10.4 million; Alibaba was second with 3.9 million.
Nearly 30 million units shipped in Q3. The third quarter saw shipments of 28.6 million smart speakers and displays overall, compared with 26.1 in Q2 2019 and 19.7 million in Q3 2018 according to Canalys. Privacy concerns don’t seem to have weakened consumer demand.
Canalys attributes Amazon’s success to the strength of the e-commerce giant’s direct channel, Prime Day sales and other promotions, as well as company’s Echo trade-in program. Google sells directly, through traditional retailers and other channel partners but its direct sales have proven no match for Amazon.
Display category grew 500%. Canalys pointed out that the “smart display category grew 500% globally to reach 6.3 million units in Q3 2019.” The firm said that the Echo Show 5 (smart display) “contributed significantly” to Amazon’s Q3 success. The overall share of smart displays in Q3 was 20% for the first time, indicating increasing traction for the devices.
Google has been seeking to use smart displays, especially the Nest Hub Max, as a competitive advantage vs. Amazon. So far it doesn’t seem to be working.
There are numerous estimates circulating in the market about the total number of smart speakers. Research firms put the number of devices in U.S. homes above 100 million. Canalys projected that there would be 225 million smart speaker/display devices globally by 2020.
Why we should care. Given the Q3 numbers, we can expect a pretty robust holiday quarter for these smart devices. Though so far smart speakers/displays have yet to yield many benefits to marketers, they likely will over time and become an important channel. That’s especially true with smart displays, which have the benefit of touch screens, giving brands and retailers more marketing and advertising options than smart speakers.