Apple's HomePod only takes fourth place in smart speaker race

Apple's HomePod only takes fourth place in smart speaker race

The shipment of smart speakers more than tripled to 9.2 million in the first quarter, from 2.4 million the year before.

Even with this caveat, Apple gets a 6% market share, significantly less than Amazon and Google and a little below the Chinese platform Alibaba e-Commerce. However, as Amazon and Google marketed their products as smart first and foremost, their mini versions work well, but Apple placed a greater focus on their audio quality of their speaker, and this superior element could be lost with a smaller version.

Both Amazon and Google together accounts for 70% share of the smart speaker shipments worldwide in Q1, however, their combined share fell from 84% in Q4 2017 and 94% during the first quarter of a year ago.

The standout in the stats is Google Home, which sold 2.4 million units in the quarter for a 26.5 percent market share, double its market share from a year ago but more importantly a 709 percent increase in unit sales. All the other smart speakers hovering around combined to be responsible for the remaining 1.3m shipments.

According to the data, Apple shipped some 600,000 HomePod units between January and March this year. "Alibaba and Xiaomi are leading the way in China and their strength in the domestic market alone is proving enough to propel them into the global top five". Neither Amazon nor Google are present on the Chinese market, which saw strong growth in the quarter, explaining the decline in their global market shares. "We are clearly heading toward a time in the not-too-distant future when voice becomes a standard mode of technology interaction alongside established approaches like keyboard, mouse and touchscreen".

Apple's HomePod didn't go on sale until well into Q1, meaning sales don't represent a full quarter, but sales are likely not as high as the company would like. Rumours also suggest Apple is developing a cheaper version of the speaker, much like the Amazon Echo Dot and the Google Home Mini.