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Samsung, Google and Apple Eyeing Growing AI Speaker Market
Showdown over AI Speakers
Samsung, Google and Apple Eyeing Growing AI Speaker Market
  • By Michael Herh
  • May 30, 2018, 15:41
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Samsung Electronics will launch its Bixby Speaker in the second half of this year.
Samsung Electronics will launch its Bixby Speaker in the second half of this year.

The AI speaker market is expected to grow sharply in the second half of this year.

According to market researcher Canalys on May 29, the AI speaker market will reach 56.3 million units this year. Samsung Electronics will launch its Bixby Speaker in the second half of this year while Google is preparing to enter the Korean market. Apple and Facebook will launch a lower priced model and products with cameras on, respectively.

Samsung’s Bixby Speaker will be able to control the company’s home appliances such as smartphones, TVs and robot cleaners. This plan is a strategy to increase consumer loyalty. Samsung Electronics is considering collaborating with Kakao for Bixby's information search function. When the Bixby Speaker comes out, the product will be able to boost brand loyalty among customers not only in Korea but abroad including the US. According to market research firm TraQline, Samsung Electronics recorded a 19% market share in the US consumer electronics market (excluding TVs, laptops and smartphones), taking first place in the first quarter of this year. Earlier LG Electronics introduced Smart ThinQ Hub mixed with Naver's AI platform Clova.

Google is considering the right time to launch the Google Home Mini in Korea. The speaker was already certified by the National Radio Research Agency in early last month. The IT industry expects that the Google Home Mini will be launched as early as this month or next month. In 2014, Google received the radio certification of the "Chromecast," a media streaming device and landed it in the Korean market in two months. If the Google Home Mini is linked to Google Shopping, its competition with online shopping companies such as Naver, which operates Naver Shopping, can intensify. Google Shopping is not currently providing its services in Korea.

Google already took first place from Amazon in the world AI speaker market in the first quarter. According to Canalys, Google sold 3.2 million units in the AI speaker market, outpacing Amazon’s 2.5 million units. A total of nine million units were sold around the world in the first quarter. The Google Home Mini supported local languages better than the Amazon Echo, which contributed to an increase in the Google Home Mini’s market share.

Apple is developing a low-priced version of the Homepod. The low-priced version will be priced at US$ 199 as the current regular model is selling at US$ 349. It is highly likely that the Airplay 2 function, which plays music simultaneously from multiple devices through the speaker, will be loaded into the speaker. According to Nine2Five Mac, a major media outlet on Apple devices, Apple is mulling over launching the product in the market as early as by the end of the year.

Facebook is also trying to find the best time to launch its AI speaker called the Marvi. The SNS giant is testing the device by trying various functions such as image searches through object recognition as well as voice recognition by attaching a camera to the speaker. In particular, Facebook will load the speaker with the ability to communicate with family members and friends by working together with Facebook Messenger.

Experts in the IT industry expect that competition will intensify in the AI speaker market in the second half of this year. Korea and China are the fastest growing AI speaker markets outside of the US. China grew into the second largest market in the world with 1.8 million units shipped. Alibaba became the world's third-largest supplier of smart speakers (11.8% market share) by supplying 1.1 million units, and Xiaomi took fourth place with 600,000 units. Korea also surpassed the UK in the first quarter, recording the shipment of 731,000 units of artificial intelligence speakers, emerging as the world's third largest AI speaker market.

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