Report: Smart Speaker Sales Hit a Record 86 Million Units in Q4 2018

Posted on February 20, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Smart Home with 21 Comments

A new report from Strategy Analytics says that smart speaker sales hit a new record in the holiday quarter of 2018, with 86.2 million units sold, a gain of 98 percent over the 38.5 million units sold in the year-ago quarter. That quarterly figure is also higher than the total number of smart speakers sold in all of 2017.

“Smart speakers were the hottest consumer electronics product in 2018,” the firm claims. “Amazon and Google enjoyed a particularly strong quarter thanks to the popularity of their low-cost Echo Dot and Home Mini speakers and both companies recorded quarter-on-quarter increases in market share. [But] Apple’s HomePod … market share fell.”

According to Strategy Analytics, Amazon and Google together combined for over 65 percent of all smart speakers sold in the quarter, and Google again gained a lot of ground on Amazon. The online retailer narrowly edged out Google with 13.7 million units sold, good for 35.5 percent market share and 91 YOY growth. But Google grew by 123 percent and sold 11.5 million units, arriving at 30 percent market share. Google’s results are all the more impressive when you consider that it lacks the built-in retail sales engine that Amazon enjoys with its online store.

Three Asia-based firms—Alibaba, Baidu, and Xiaomi—landed in third, fourth, and fifth place, respectively, each with low single-digit market share. Apple fell to 6th place, with its vaunted HomePod selling just 1.6 million units and garnering 4.1 percent market share. A year ago, when HomePod first launched, it controlled 4.9 percent of the market.

Strategy Analytics’ numbers include smart display sales, and the firm specifically called out this new class of device a few times in its report.

“Smart speakers and smart displays were once again the most sought-after tech products this past holiday season and we estimate that more than 60 million households worldwide now own at least one device,” Strategy Analytics director David Watkins said. “Smart displays such as Google’s Home Hub, Amazon’s Echo Show and Baidu’s Xiaodu Zaijia are proving popular with consumers who are attracted by the combination of audio and visual stimulus and the wider range of use cases compared to speaker only devices. Smart displays made up more than 10 percent of total shipment demand in Q4 2018 and they are expected to be a significant driver of growth in the market through 2019.”

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Comments (21)

21 responses to “Report: Smart Speaker Sales Hit a Record 86 Million Units in Q4 2018”

  1. spacein_vader

    Good luck to them, and those who use them. They won't be crossing my threshold though.

  2. nicholas_kathrein

    I love have my google home and home minis. Sometimes they amaze me and sometimes they are dumb. I'm betting the consistency will get better over the next few years and maybe in 5 yrs or so there will be a big improvement. Either the way it talks will be human sounding with every word or it will understand more. Both are 2 places where it will be obvious when a big update changes the "game" for these devices.

  3. captobie

    To take a contrarian view, we've heard this story for the last few years after the holidays when Google and Amazon drop their prices on the basic speaker to $19.99. At that price, I think many of them are sold as stocking stuffers. They're set up, played with for a day or two, and then promptly forgotten.


    I have absolutely no interest in smart speakers, yet I've felt the urge to pick one up each time I see them on sale for $20. It's a pure impulse purchase. What I'd really be interested to see are engagement numbers, how many people actually use the devices on a daily basis.

  4. Hoomgar

    I have not and most likely will not own one.  I see no point in it and it isn't really all that tech when you get down to it.  Honestly I would feel a little immature speaking to one of these things to do something for me that I really don't need it to do.  I don't need devices that help me make my life less active.  Now a bike powered computer or TV, there is a good idea  ;)

  5. michael_babiuk

    Regarding HomePod market share stats among smart speaker manufactures, it must be pointed out (because Paul failed to do so) that Apple's "vaunted HomePod " sold 1.6 million units during the Holiday selling period which was equivalent to a 45 percent growth rate over the same 3 month period of a year ago. Since Apple's relatively expensive HomePods are a distinctly superior sounding device compared to the inexpensive Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home Mini "Holiday stocking stuffers only good for stuffing stockings" that only serve to pad the market share stats, I don't think Apple is too dissatisfied with roughly $560,000,000 retail sales over a 90 day period.


    More importantly, I don't think the owners of a HomePod (or a HomePod stereo pair) really care about market share anyway. As an owner of a HomePod stereo pair, I can attest to the superb sound quality and usefulness of these devices.

    • Stooks

      In reply to Michael_Babiuk:

      Our family is all iPhone. We have the Apple Music family plan. We have a Home Pod in our finished basement near the bar/pool table area. Everyone that hears it is amazed by it.


      For things we ask it to do (play music) it is batting 1000. It also the only speaker that could match and exceed the old Bose Sound Link II BT that it replaced in terms of sound quality.


      When it comes to privacy concerns, I have NONE with the Home Pod. I would never put a Amazon or Google IOT/Smart device in my house.

  6. skane2600

    In 1975, about 1.5 million Pet Rocks were sold in 6 months, just to put things in perspective. :)

  7. NoFlames

    I had no intention to get hooked on these things. I started out with the Harmon Kardon Invoke, then Amazon gave me a free dot with my ring video doorbell. Now I have 2 echo dots, 1 echo plus, and the invoke... think I'm hooked. These pushers know what they are doing but now they are charging me full prices...

  8. John Noonan

    I have an echo sitting behind me when I am at my computer desk and the only thing I find it useful for is to connect via voice as a bluetooth speaker for my phone so I can listen to a podcast. One might ask why I don't just let it play the Podcast? Well, I use Pocketcasts and I like to control and track what I am listening to.


    What I am saying is that I find these assistants to be mainly a gimmick. I cannot connect to my Bose bluetooth speaker with voice, but it sure sounds better, and I like it better.


    Also, I am not interested in giving Google or Amazon more ammo with which to target ads at me. I don't find targeted ads to be desirable.

  9. Rob_Wade

    This is just beyond stupid. We have half a dozen devices with microphones, speakers and displays in them. It's stupid to buy yet ANOTHER device to do the same things ALL of these devices are--or should be--capable of. The problem is that NONE of these companies has a clue what they're doing. I LOVE Cortana and prefer that user experience far above any other assistants. But the problem with ALL of them is what I've been complaining about from the beginning. INTEGRATION. There is zero intelligence behind the scenes or with the front-ends.


    I walk into my house and I say, "Hey, Cortana, turn on the Xbox". Since all of our devices have Cortana set to Always On, I can hear the Xbox, my phone, my Surface Pro and our server all come to life because all of them can hear me. The Xbox dutifully starts up because the awesome Kinect does its job very well. But, my phone, my SP and server all respond with variations of "I'm sorry, I can't do that right now, come back after future updates" or "Here's what I've found on turning on the Xbox". If I say, "Hey, Cortana, what's the weather like tomorrow", every single device responds. Buying a speaker would just add to the chaos or I'd have to turn OFF all the other devices and hope the speaker can hear me from another room. This is stupid.


    My phone is the most likely device to be with me at a given moment, but at home I would easily be within microphone range of 2-4 other devices. When I'm other places I'm likely to have my phone and my Surface Pro. What SHOULD happen is this:


    I give a command within range of multiple devices. EACH device immediately recognizes me, the command and REGISTERS DECIBEL LEVEL of the command. The cloud compares this info and determines which device picked it up the loudest--all other devices immediately go back to standby. If the command is unique to a specific device (e.g., turning the Xbox on), the command is immediately processed by that device and all others go back to standby. Alternatively, if I give a command with a specific destination included, again, all other devices go to standby and the target device responds. Example: "Hey, Cortana, show me the weather on my Surface Pro". If I give a command that can be satisfied on multiple device that heard me, but I didn't give a destination, the nearest device would then ask, "Ok, where do you want this information?" Even better, in Cortana's settings, I could have a setting that says my default target device would be which ever device was closest to me (usually the one that registered highest decibel level).


    This is the user experience I want.

  10. biff

    I am amazed that millions of people volunteer to allow devices with microphones listening inside of their homes.

    Perhaps these are the same people that foolishly volunteer to give up their DNA for random trivia, and ancestor relative information as well.


    The NSA, CIA, FBI all LOVE these people!


    • MTrimmer

      In reply to biff:

      Do you own a smart phone? You realize it has a microphone as well GPS, accelerometer, camera,etc. Unless you can remove the battery from your phone, you are already providing all the information any smart speaker could provide plus a lot more to your ISP, cell phone carrier, and anyone else listening in on their networks.

    • coreyp

      In reply to biff:

      Convenience against security. It's great to get a recipe just by asking and see step-by-step instructions or say "hey google/alexa/siri add X to my shopping list/remind me to do Y". Plus, it's not like Google is all that cooperative with the government at the moment with them dropping Project Maven.

    • Rob_Wade

      In reply to biff:

      I don't live in the tinfoil hat world. I want the Tony Stark world. It's really that simple.

  11. dcdevito

    I look at it this way, if my parents own two of these devices in their home, then lots of these things have been sold.

  12. jackson123

    Hey thanks for your details ....

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