The global artificial intelligence (AI) speaker market is showing signs of becoming a two-way race between U.S. and Chinese IT companies. Industry watchers say Korean companies are far behind the front-runners.
The top two players in the global AI speaker market in the first quarter of this year were Amazon (21.7 percent) and Google (18 percent), market research firm Strategy Analytics said on June 2. They were followed by Chinese companies: Baidu (15.8 percent), Alibaba (14.1 percent) and Xiaomi (13.1 percent). The combined market share of these three Chinese companies stood at 43 percent, meaning that they virtually controlled half of the global market.
U.S. and Chinese AI speaker manufacturers have been growing rapidly. Amazon and Google grew 50 percent and 92 percent, respectively, from a year earlier. Baidu entered the AI speaker market at the end of 2017. It accounted for a mere 0.1 percent in the first quarter of last year, but has since been growing explosively. In the same period, Alibaba and Xiaomi have also grown 243 period and 518 period, respectively.
Baidu signed an exclusive partnership deal with China's state-run CCTV to penetrate the AI speaker market. In the first quarter alone, Baidu sold 3.3 million units, boosting its market share.
Korean AI speakers have only a tenuous presence in the world market. In AI market surveys by major research companies, Korean companies are not even included. At present, Korean AI speakers available in the market are Giga Genie of KT Corp., Clova of Naver Corp. and Kakao Mini C of Kakao Corp.
Experts cite two reasons why domestic companies cannot expand their market presence. First, the Korean market is small compared to the U.S. and China. Language barriers are also an obstacle. Because the Korean language is the top priority for Korean AI developers, it is not easy for them to make a foray into regions where other languages such as English are spoken.
Currently, Samsung Electronics is the only Korean company developing AI speakers with a focus on the global market. However, Samsung has been delaying its entry into the market since unwrapping the Galaxy Home in New York in August last year. Some industry watchers speculate that Samsung has delayed the launch of the Galaxy Home as it has been busy launching the Galaxy Fold, a foldable phone. Recently, the Galaxy Home Mini, a small version of the Galaxy Home was approved by the U.S. Telecommunications Commission (FCC). Samsung is expected to launch the small-sized model first for about $50.