IDC Says European Smart Speaker Sales will Exceed 23 Million Devices in 2019 and Google Home Just Outsold Amazon Echo in Q1
IDC has released its Q1 2019 Quarterly Smart Home Device Tracker for Europe and the research firm estimates 3.35 million smart speakers shipped during the period. That is the highest Q1 sales figure to date according to an announcement and reflects a 58% growth rate compared to Q1 2018. The report forecasts full-year smart speaker sales to exceed 23 million in 2019 and grow to 43 million in 2023. Notably, IDC reports that Google Home smart speakers outsold Amazon Echo devices in the first quarter of the year.
However, IDC reports that Amazon Echo is expected to continue to outsell Google in each full year except 2022 attributing the Q1 shortfall to Echo smart speaker supply issues. Antonio Arantes, senior research analyst for Smart Home devices in Western Europe for IDC commented:
“Google had a stellar quarter and was the clear winner in the first quarter, reaching an important milestone in Europe. Google continues to expand to new countries and support new native languages at a faster pace than Amazon. This is also contributing to strengthening its position in voice assistant platforms. Google Assistant was present in 49.2% of all smart speakers sold in Europe in the first quarter of 2019. Meanwhile, Amazon faced supply issues, with the Amazon Echo Dot being out of stock in some countries for several weeks, leaving space for Google Home products to grow.”
Voicebot was the first outlet or analyst to recognize that Amazon was running short on inventory of its popular Echo smart speaker models in December 2018. That shortage continued into March for some countries. Google Assistant’s higher share of smart speakers for the quarter than Google Home smart speakers alone is a function of third-party device makers that embed the voice assistant into their devices.
IDC tells Voicebot that its sales estimates reflect shipments directed to distribution channels as opposed to retail sales and its European coverage includes Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom in Western Europe as well as Central and East European countries including Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Romania, and others in the region.
Amazon Built a Lead, But Google Benefits from Pre-existing Language Models and Mobile Integration
Amazon may have built a formidable installed base for its Echo line of smart speakers in Europe by being first to market. However, Google is leveraging some of its unique assets to quickly close the gap. Two important assets were pre-existing language models and mobile device integration. Language models for a product that preceded Google Assistant enabled the company to trail Amazon for availability in the U.K. and Germany but beat the company to market in neighboring European countries France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and several Nordic countries.
Google Assistant’s deep integration into Android smartphones also enables Google to enter markets with its voice assistant several months before smart speakers are available for sale. This offers consumers an opportunity to use localized versions of Google Assistant and become familiar with it prior to the arrival of smart speakers. These assets are enabling Google Assistant to capture consumer market share in a similar fashion to Android’s race to catch up with Apple’s iOS smartphones a decade ago.