The smart speaker market is dominated by Amazon and Google. Amazon is currently in first place with the company’s Echo line of smart speakers, with the Google Assistant-enabled Google Home lineup a close second. Earlier this year at CES 2018, the first display-equipped smart speakers were announced. Now, a Nikkei Asian Review report states that Google is preparing to release a smart speaker equipped with a display for 2018’s holiday season, a move likely to increase competition with Amazon and Alibaba Group.
The new product is likely to be similar to the Amazon Echo Show, and it will round out the Google Home range of smart speakers that are powered by the Google Assistant. An unnamed industry source told Nikkei Asian Review that Google is targeting to ship three million units for the first batch of the new display-equipped smart speaker. The source commented that it’s an aggressive plan.
The report notes that according to research company Canalys, Amazon shipped only 315,000 units of the Echo Show in 2017. At CES, Google introduced its new smart display platform to partners such as Lenovo Group, JBL, LG Electronics, and Sony, which enabled the partners to build Echo Show-like devices. However, the company is yet to release its own product in this category.
Its smart speaker lineup currently includes the standard Google Home, low-cost Google Home Mini, and the high-end Google Home Max. The Home and the Home Mini are intended to be competitors for Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot, while the Home Max competes with Apple’s HomePod, which is powered by Siri.
Nikkei Asian Review states that Google’s upcoming display-equipped speaker will still probably rely on voice commands. However, the presence of a display will mean that users will be able to play YouTube videos, check calendars, view maps, etc. Some industry executives are predicting that more display-equipped smart speakers will arrive soon as image and video recognition features become more mainstream.
The smart speaker is mostly a duopoly, according to data from Canalys. 35 million smart speakers were shipped worldwide in 2017, with Amazon taking the top market share with 63% share of the market, while Google took 32%. Other players had marginal share.
For the January-March period, Google accounted for 36% of around nine million units shipped, with Amazon’s share having fallen to 28%. The company has also increased with the likes of Alibaba, Xiaomi, Apple, and others entering the market. Demand for the smart speaker market remains high as the number of installed smart speakers is expected to exceed 100 million devices in 2018, a figure which is nearly 2.5 times more than the figure at the end of 2017, according to a Canalys report.
The report notes that Apple initially planned to ship six million HomePods this year, but it later cut the figure to about five million as users are complaining that Siri is not as powerful as Assistant or Alexa.
Google’s hardware operations are linked with Taiwan’s technology industry. The company purchased half of HTC’s smartphone division last year, even though Pixel phones sold only 3.9 million units last year. Most of the Google Home lineup is produced by Quanta Computer (a key builder of Apple’s MacBooks), and an unnamed source told the publication that Quanta is also working with Google on a tablet to be unveiled this year. The display-equipped speaker will be made by Pegatron, however. Pegatron is a smaller rival to Foxconn.
Compal Electronics, an iPad supplier, is also engaging with Google to grab a share of the smart speaker market. Foxconn, on the other hand, will help manufacture new Pixel phones (Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL) that will likely launch in October.
More context relevant for Google’s hardware business is that the company has teamed up with Broadcom for its tensor processing unit (TPU) for mega data centers looking to accelerate computing of customized AI algorithms to help recognize and analyze images, languages, text and videos in the cloud. TSMC, the world’s biggest contract chip maker, is handling production of TPUs.
The publication stated that Google declined to comment on the new hardware products plan report.
Source: Nikkei Asian Review