Smart Speaker Sales Rose 6% in Q1, Despite Uncertain Coronavirus Impact
The smart speaker and display market in North America grew 6% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the year before, according to the latest Omdia report. How much or how little this rise may be because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences isn’t clear, but the 300,000 more smart speakers shipped this year could mark a short-term peak as the impact of the pandemic on the economy grows.
More Speakers, More Alexa
The Omdia report found Amazon and its Alexa-powered devices well ahead in shipments this quarter, with 56% of the 6.1 million sent out. That’s well ahead of Google’s 35%, while Apple took a distant third at 9%. The Amazon Echo Show 5 smart display did very well, making up 786,000 of the shipments, or nearly a quarter of Amazon’s total. The Echo Dot with a clock was a couple of hundred thousand shipments behind. The same goes for smart displays specifically. The 220% jump in shipments from last year translates to 1.9 million shipments total. Amazon accounted for 70% of them.
Google did brisk business with some of its devices. The Echo Show 5 only outsold the Google Home smart speaker by 50,000, although that was a full third of Google’s total shipments. The Google Nest Mini and Google Nest Hub made up most of the rest of Google’s sales in the sector. As the Google Home will not be manufactured in the future, the sales on it may have helped move units. Apple’s far lower sale number is likely partly because it only has the one smart speaker, the Apple HomePod, which shipped 541,000 times this quarter.
Any effect of the novel coronavirus spread on people’s spending habits will be hard to read in the report since it was only in February that governments started to address the disease, and really March before the self-quarantining and rounds of layoffs began in earnest. People may be more inclined to save money and not buy new electronics that they may see as luxuries. Omdia predicts that the sale numbers of smart speakers and displays in the second quarter will be lower in the second quarter of this year than in 2019.
At the same time, people are around and using their smart speakers and smart displays more than they might if they were still going to the office. That might encourage people to buy or upgrade their smart devices, with Omdia suggesting that displays with video chat as a feature could represent more of the total devices sold next quarter. In addition, there are continual sales for smart speakers and displays. Those show no sign of fading away. The device makers and third-party retailers are all offering deep discounts on most of their smart speaker products. At the entry-level scale, the smart speakers end up being very affordable when the sale is factored into the final price.