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Google just dethroned Amazon in the smart speaker wars

Published May 25th, 2018 9:22AM EDT
Google Home vs Alexa price, sales
Image: Colin Hui/Shutterstock

Amazon invented the market for smart speakers when it first launched the Echo, and unsurprisingly, it has dominated the market ever since. Even the HomePod, with the full weight of Apple’s engineering team and Jony Ive’s facial hair, couldn’t make a dent in Echo sales.

But according to new sales data from Canalys, Google took the first spot in smart speaker sales in Q1 2018, beating Echo sales by nearly 700,000 devices. Chinese manufacturers Alibaba and Xiaomi continued their rapid growth to take third and fourth place respectively, while Sonos, Apple, and everyone else fights for the table scraps at the bottom.

Google shipped 3.2 million Google Home and Home Mini devices in Q1 2018, compared to 2.5 million Echo devices for Amazon. Those numbers look considerably worse when you consider Amazon revamped the Echo just last fall, and the Echo speaker is $30 cheaper than the Google Home.

“Google has several advantages over Amazon that have helped it move ahead,” said Canalys Analyst Ben Stanton. “But its biggest advantage is in the channel. 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. 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.”

That said, Google has the advantage of a tremendous user base that are already tied into Google software products via Gmail, Calendar, Maps, and Android phones. Provided that it can keep up its growth of smart home integrations, Amazon’s remaining weeks at the top could be numbered.