GOOGLE HAS DROPPED its second position in the smart speaker wars, as Chinese firm Baidu leverages its captive local audience to take runners-up spot.
A new report from Canalys shows that while Amazon's Alexa is continuing to reap the rewards of early mass-market adoption with 6.6 million units shipped in the last quarter, a surge from Baidu, the Chinese Google, has seen it dethrone its Western rival with 4.5 million units, just pipping Google's 4.3 million.
Baidu's market share jump is spectacular - 3,700 per cent year-on-year - is made all the more remarkable as its only for sale in the Chinese market, albeit a market with a sizeable chunk of the Earth's inhabitants.
The smart speaker market has more than doubled in China, year-on-year, despite a slight drop in the last quarter.
Interestingly, Canalys has suggested that Google's recent rebranding of the range to form part of a combined smart home division - Google Nest - has been part of the reason for the slowdown in Google's growth.
It had been the fastest-growing range in the market, and had even shown signs of one day toppling Amazon Alexa, but whilst it made sense to bring Nest into the Google stable, the rebranding of Google products to Nest is proving less easy for customers to swallow - especially as current products aren't being rebranded until they're replaced, causing confusion in the market.
This was compounded further by the retirement of the "Works with Nest" programme, which is killing off a number of integrations with third-party products.
It also adds that the loss leader product, the Google Home Mini, is looking rather long in the tooth now, where Amazon has been updating the Echo Dot regularly. That criticism may yet be answered by an expected refresh alongside the Google Pixel 4 launch next month.
Signs of a complete range refresh are appearing daily. Just this week it was confirmed that the original Google Chromecast device, from way back in 2013, is finally going to a maintenance schedule with bug fixes and security updates only from now on. μ
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