Google overtakes Amazon in smart speaker market in Q1 2018

The worldwide market for smart speakers grew 210 percent year-over-year, according to research from Canalys.

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Google surpassed Amazon in smart speaker sales for the first time in Q1 2018, according to research from Canalys. Google shipped 3.2 million Google Home and Home Mini devices, while Amazon shipped 2.5 million Echo devices.

The overall global market grew 210 percent year-over-year, with shipments reaching 9 million units.

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Google's smart speaker sales grew even faster, at 483 percent year-over-year. The Mountain View company secured just over 32 percent of the market for Q1 2018. Amazon, meanwhile, grew its sales 8 percnet year-over-year but saw its market share fall from nearly 80 percent in Q1 2017 to nearly 28 percent in Q1 2018.

Canalys Analyst Ben Stanton primarily attributed Google's acceleration in sales to channel sales.

"Operators and retailers tend to prioritize Google's speakers over those from Amazon, as Amazon is in the tricky position of being a direct competitor," he said in a statement. "But Amazon is fighting back hard, and the sheer quantity of Alexa Skills and smart home integrations will be tough for any competitor to match."

Smart speakers have helped introduce consumers to Amazon's and Google's respective virtual assistants, Alexa and Google Assistant. Of course, as Stanton noted, both tech giants are working to integrate their assistants with other home devices like dishwashers, vacuums, and doorbells. While Amazon has more smart home integrations, Google can also use Android devices to promote its assistant.

Meanwhile, both companies are pushing into new markets. At the Google I/O conference this year, Google noted that Google Assistant will be available in 30 languages and 80 countries by the end of the year.

In the smart speaker market, US market share fell below 50 percent for the first time in Q1, Canalys noted, with the devices growing in popularity in different markets. China was the second-largest market in the quarter, with 1.8 million smart speakers shipped there, while South Korea overtook the UK for third place with 730,000 shipments.

Thanks to the growing Chinese market, Alibaba was the third-largest smart speaker vendor, selling 1.1 million Tmall Genie speakers in the quarter. Xiaomi, meanwhile, shipped over 600,000 of its Xiao AI speakers to China in Q1.