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Global smart speaker shipments hit an all-time high, with Amazon in the lead

The US saw a bit of a cool down in the third quarter when it comes to the shipment of smart speakers like Amazon’s popular Alexa-powered devices. But new data out from Strategy Analytics tells a different story — or, rather, adds another dimension to the smart speaker market picture. Outside the US, smart speaker shipments are actually red-hot at the moment. Indeed, global shipments hit a record high in the third quarter, putting the market on track to top 100 million units in use by the end of this year.

According to the Strategy Analytics data, global smart speaker shipments during the third quarter hit 22.7 million units, up a whopping 197% over the year-ago period. To no one’s surprise, Amazon remains the top-ranked vendor with a 32% market share, followed by Google at 23%. The competition in China, meanwhile, is particularly interesting. These numbers show that Baidu is growing particularly fast, from a 1% share of the market in the second quarter of this year to 8% in the third quarter. There, as a Phone Arena report notes, Baidu is starting to get competitive in a three-way race along with Alibaba and Xiaomi to dominate smart speaker shipments in China.

Pointing to these numbers and the trends therein, that report also goes so far as to declare smart speakers as “the biggest thing since smartphones,” at least in terms of popularity. Adds Strategy Analytics vice president David Mercer, the number of smart speakers in use may even exceed 125 million by year-end. And the market “has reached this key milestone faster than pretty much any other consumer technology device to have launched over the past decade.”

“Our extensive consumer research,” he continues, “shows that voice-first products have well and truly dropped any gimmick status they may have had and are becoming a permanent fixture in many homes.”

In terms of where things stand with smart speakers specifically in the US, data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners LLC shows that at the end of the third quarter, the Amazon Echo had a lock on 70 percent of the US installed base — almost three times as much as its next-closest competitor, Google Home, with 25%. In third place is Apple, maker of the HomePod, with a 5% share of the US smart speaker market.

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Andy Meek is a reporter who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming. Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.