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China's smart speakers have entered the global market, and the dual business model has expanded rapidly.

via:网易智能     time:2018/7/16 15:33:53     readed:651

The report points out that in 2014, Amazon released the smart speaker Echo of Alexa, a built-in AI assistant, which marked the arrival of a new era of home automation. In the past four years, Amazon's Echo speakers have dominated the smart speakers market.

Nowadays, the popularity of smart speakers is getting higher and higher, and smart speakers are becoming more and more commercialized and become a global phenomenon. Amazon is losing its market share in the early days of the smart box Market - not only because of its rival Google, but also the emergence of a new Chinese smart speaker.

The survey data showed that in the first quarter of 2017, the global market share of Amazon's smart sound box was up to 80%, followed by 19% of Google, and the market share of Alibaba and millet was 0%. In the first quarter of 2018, the data had changed significantly: the market share of Amazon's smart sound box fell to 28% in the global market, and the "later" Google accounted for 36%, followed by the market share of the Alibaba 12% and the market share of millet 7%.

Another survey shows that China is the second largest consumer market in the world, reaching $4 trillion and 300 billion in consumer spending in 2016 alone (the United States ranked first with $12 trillion and 500 billion, Japan ranked third, and $2 trillion and 700 billion). According to the Juniper Research survey, China's smart home market will reach nearly $23 billion in 2018. Smart speakers and AI voice assistant are becoming an integral part of the market.

The following is a summary of CB Insights's analysts' forecasts of the smart home market.

With the rise of China's smart home market, Google and Amazon and other old enterprises are facing new competition.

Using CB Insights data, we have a deep understanding of the players, partners, business models of emerging markets, and China's role in promoting the market for low-cost, high output smart speakers.

US companies do not provide enough services to the Chinese market.

Whether Amazon's Echo speakers or Google Home smart speakers have not penetrated into the Chinese market.

In addition to the strict regulation that American Technology Corp faces in China, Natural Language Processing in China is also very complex (with 130 dialects and 30 written languages), which makes speech recognition a huge challenge.

Among the big technology companies in America, only Apple's intelligent assistant Siri supports Mandarin. The company's Homepod smart speakers currently only support English, and have not yet been sold in China.

This makes the Chinese market unable to fully serve the American enterprises, and local enterprises are taking advantage of this.

Intelligent voice is one of the four major concerns of the Chinese government in the first batch of artificial intelligence applications in the country. The other three areas are health care, intelligent cities and auto driving cars.

China's large technology companies have invested heavily in China. Alibaba started selling its Tmall smart smart speakers at the $15 price in the "double eleven" annual shopping event in China. Baidu recently reduced the price of one of its smart speakers sold in China from $39 to $14.

These low prices make it almost impossible for small companies to compete in the market.

Emerging business models blurred competition boundaries

Chinese enterprises entering the smart home market are deploying a dual business mode to gain global market share and expand business in China:

First, they work with American Technology Corp to carry their hardware.MicrosoftXiao Na and Alexa and other AI assistants sell smart speakers outside China.

Second, they are working with China's intelligent voice startups, or within the company.DevelopmentConversational AI software is sold in China, while American technology companies are facing strict restrictions in the Chinese market.

Here are some examples of companies adopting these methods.


In order to enter the market of smart speakers, Lenovo and Amazon have launched smart speakers with built-in Alexa software in the United States. At the time of its launch, the company's smart speakers cost less than the equivalent size of the Amazon Echo speakers, and it is said that the sound quality is also better than that of the Amazon's Echo speakers.

This is in line with Amazon's recent trend to work with third party hardware makers to sell Alexa's voice software as a service to expand the Alexa market penetration and user base.

In order to further improve its hardware capabilities, Lenovo works with Harman Kardon, the leading audio equipment manufacturer, to produce loudspeakers with better sound quality. Mihoshi Ko Harman Karson has also established a partnership with Amazon to sell its own Alexa audio, which further blurred the boundaries of global competition.

But for the domestic sales in China, Lenovo is a voice recognition software developed by the artificial intelligence enterprise AISpeech, which has developed a separate sound box model.


Google invested $60 million in 2015 to support Mobvoi, the company's first direct investment in China. The start-up company produces voice watches, audio and smart mirrors.

TicHome, an intelligent spokesman for Mobvoi, has been equipped with Google assistants worldwide, but in China, Google still faces strict restrictions, Mobvoi sells its smart speakers and has its own voice dialogue software.

(Note: Google bought a minority stake in China's e-commerce giant Jingdong this month. According to reports, the two companies discussed shopping in Jingdong.websiteWhile selling Google Home speakers, it is not clear what mode of expansion Google will take in China to cope with the current market restrictions.

Jingdong is also one of the first Chinese manufacturers to launch an intelligent sound box, the DingDong, which uses the artificial intelligence software of the leading voice recognition company iFlytek.


Unicorn is one of the leading mobile phone companies in China. "Unicorn" is a company that has been established within 10 years, valued at more than $1 billion, has been private-owned and has not yet been listed.

The company is developing its own AI assistant, working with Amazon's Alexa, and it is possible to integrate Microsoft's new product line.

This cooperation could make it far far behind the Google, Amazon, and apple and other American Technology Corp's Microsoft to get a place in the market.

In addition to smartphones and loudspeakers, millet also sells a variety of consumer electronics in China, including smart TV, vacuum cleaning robots, intelligent lamps and even rice cookers.

Considering its attention to artificial intelligence (it has recently formed a 500 - person AI team), we may soon see its artificial intelligence assistant come out.

Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent in the voice market

China's three largest technology companies - Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent - are positioning themselves as global leaders in the field of artificial intelligence in a range of industries, ranging from health care to unmanned vehicles. Smart audio is the common concern of the three companies.


Baidu wants its DeurOS platform to become the world's leading conversational AI software and compete directly with Amazon Alexa.

In the fourth quarter of this year, Baidu launched an intelligent sound box called "Raven H", whose name comes from the artificial intelligence assistant start-up company Raven Tech, which was bought by Baidu last year.

Although Baidu's smart speakers run on its conversational AI platform DuerOS, the company also relies on external partners for hardware design. Raven H has worked with a Swedish company called Teenage Engineering to create a sound that is different from other companies in the market.

Below is a photo of Raven H, and a wireless speaker with a patent from Teenage Engineering.

Last year, Baidu also acquired kitt.ai, a Natural Language Processing based company based in the US, which has been invested by Amazon Alexa fund. In the first quarter of this year, the company launched the first DuerOS system outside China.commercialHardware products: in Japan launched a set of smart speakers, smart lamps and projectors three functions of a product.

DuerOS was trained in Chinese data, but after Baidu acquired the Japanese input editor Simeiji in 2011, Baidu got the conditions for understanding and supporting the dialogues and grammar of Japanese users.

Baidu has also applied for patent in South Korea, and has patented technology in South Korea. At the same time, it is also preparing for entering the Southeast Asian market.

For example, a patent called "human-computer interaction based on artificial intelligence and terminal devices" (as shown below) seems to combine speech recognition and facial recognition technology, like Amazon's Echo, to be applied to a consumer like robot device.

In addition to major consumer markets such as the US and China, the company applied for the patent in Japan and South Korea.


Alibaba announced that since its formal launch in July 2017, it has sold over 1 million Tmall smart smart speakers.

Tmall wizard uses AI voice assistant AliGenie to compete with Amazon's Alexa. AliGenie is similar to Alexa, which allows users to add at least 100 skills to AliGenie, and can also use their own voice on the Alibaba's e-commerce website via AliGenie. According to The Verge, many of these commands can be activated by saying "Tmall elves".

AliGenie can identify objects through mobile phone cameras, including 40 thousand drug packages, children's book covers and more. Its health care functions are mainly targeted at China's aging population and people with visual impairment.

In addition to smart home, Alibaba is also providing intelligent service facilities for 100 thousand Marriott International Hotel rooms.


Recently, Tecent has joined the smart speaker contest, but its strength lies in its WeChat user group, which has nearly 1 billion WeChat users.

Its smart speaker Ting Ting will be able to access WeChat's applications and services, such as sending voice messages and hands-free.

There are more than 50 search results for Tencent voice applications in the us from the CB Insights platform, including voice processing and authentication methods.

Scramble for market share with the United States

Competition for the dominant position of smart phones has not slowed down.

Cheap audio from Chinese companies may increasingly threaten American technology companies that are developing hardware, forcing them to focus on AI software development.

But even in the field of AI software, the technology giants of the two countries are aiming at the same market and partners.

For example, Amazon has worked with Harman Kardon, previously mentioned, to sell Harman smart speakers equipped with Amazon Alexa. Baidu has worked alone with Harman to integrate its dialogue AI platform DeurOS into Harman's car.

Sonos recently launched an intelligent stereo integrated with Alexa, and plans to support Apple's Siri and Google aides by the end of 2018. Sonos is also working with China's start-up company Rokid to solve the problem of Chinese support.

There is no doubt that Chinese companies have advantages in the field of smart acoustics, but the biggest challenge they face globally is that they lack foreign language user data compared to Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Apple Corp.

Their international expansion in the field of smart homes may depend on cooperation in a particular market or the acquisition of big data companies, similar to the practice of Baidu in Japan when it launched its artificial intelligence assistant, Aladdin.

To achieve these goals, more international cooperation, investment and acquisitions may be brewing.



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