On their shared home territory of the U.S. market, Amazon and Google have spent the last two years avidly racing for control of the emerging world of digital voice controls, and striving to develop the voice-responsive AI that consumers interact with on a daily basis. It is a race that Amazon is leading in the U.S. – and not by a small margin.
Amazon’s Alexa controls between 60 percent to 70 percent of the market, while Google and its Home Assistant have a U.S. market share of roughly 25 percent. And while there have been times, as recently as earlier this year, when it looked like Google might be starting to close the Amazon gap, by and large, the state of the race has remained fairly stable for the last 24 months or so.
On the global stage, however, things are shifting – and not in Google’s favor. Amazon, according to recent data from Canalys, is also the leader in the global market in terms of the number of units shipped during the second quarter of 2019, but Alphabet has lost its long-held second-place spot to Chinese smart speaker manufacturer Baidu. While Amazon shipped 6.6 million Echo units during the quarter, Baidu moved 4.5 million smart speaker units – slightly edging out Google, which only shipped 4.3 million units.
Google, according to the analysts watching the market at the time, first moved to step up its product offerings, particularly around its Nest Hub smart display. “Google urgently requires a revamped non-display smart speaker portfolio to rekindle consumer interest,” Canalys Senior Analyst Jason Low said in the report.
The second move was to step up its global game, as the international marketplace is increasingly flooded with Chinese competitors with a potentially large home population of users as the backbone of their efforts at global reach and scale. Google holds about 16.7 percent of the global market as of the end of Q2, but Alibaba is now in fourth place with 15.8 percent.
And as the holiday shopping crush is kicking into high gear in the U.S. and around the world, it seems Alphabet is taking a more global view of its smart speaker products. Reuters is reporting that Brazil is the latest destination for its Nest products, specifically its newly released Nest Mini smart speaker. According to reports, the Next Mini will be available for purchase in Brazil, from both online and brick-and-mortar retailers, starting tomorrow (Nov. 12).
As has become a bit of a habit in matters pertaining to this race, Google’s entrance follows Amazon’s introduction of Alexa to the Brazilian market by a few weeks. Amazon’s launch started with three of its Alexa-enabled devices (its classic, mini and smart display devices) while Google is starting with only the mini, with the possibility of extending to other devices going forward. Brazil is also considered a logical starting point for the Latin American market in general, as it is the largest economy in the region.
“We see Brazil growing in this segment, and other launches may happen in the future given the priority given to the country,” said Vinicius Dib, head of partnerships in devices for Google in Brazil.
The ongoing global competition between Amazon and Google for smart speaker dominance will carry on here on the homefront as it expands and intensifies internationally. The deep discounts race on smart speaker and home products is already off and running for the 2019 holiday season. Google minis have been discounted to $20 – less than half of their normal $49 price point) – and Amazon Echo speakers are at $60, down from their normal $99.
Plus, it’s not even Nov. 15 yet. The deep discounts have likely only just begun to appear.