On March 14, many mobile communication-related products and technologies were displayed at the China Household Appliances and Consumer Electronics Expo (AWE) opened at the Shanghai New International Expo Center. Among them, as a new port to cut into smart homes, smart speakers have attracted much attention from consumers.
At present, smart homes are beginning to enter people's lives. More and more families are adding intelligent door locks, sweeping robots (15.320, -0.50, -3.16%), intelligent refrigerators, and intelligent washing machines to their homes. Among them, intelligent speakers, as a new port to cut into intelligent homes, attract many brands to come in one after another.
Intelligent speaker is considered to be the most suitable product to realize artificial intelligence through voice, and voice control can improve people's use experience. The diversified man-machine interaction forms of intelligent sound box can better meet people's various needs, solve more practical problems and embody the real value of artificial intelligence.
Data show that in the fourth quarter of 2018, China shipped 8.6 million smart speakers, accounting for 40% of the total annual shipments, with sales showing a rapid growth trend. In 2019, China's smart speaker market will exceed 600 million yuan. It is estimated that the sales scale of smart speakers will exceed 1 billion yuan by 2020. With the further optimization and upgrading of products and the promotion of smart homes, the consumer market for smart speakers is expected to see explosive growth.
The market is developing well.
The intelligence of the intelligent sound box is mainly embodied in two aspects: one is technically equipped with WiFi connection function and can carry out voice interaction; Second, it can provide music, audio books and other content services, information inquiry, take-out and other Internet services, as well as scenario-based intelligent home control capabilities such as adjusting refrigerator temperature and remotely starting water heaters. At present, the selling price of domestic smart speakers is concentrated in 300 yuan ~800 yuan, and the equipment with screen+camera function costs about RMB 1,500 in 1000 yuan.
At present, domestic smart speaker products are developing in a diversified way. On the one hand, it is reflected in the diversity of application scenarios, including living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, restaurants, etc. On the other hand is the diversification of product functions, such as voiceprint shopping, smart home control, video calling, camera monitoring, audio playing, news information, etc. Before the advent of smart speakers, the most convenient way for people to shop was to open their mobile phones and buy online. Obviously, the upgrading of smart speakers has made the life of "opening your mouth to get it" no longer a fable.
It is understood that in 2017, China had more than 2,000 smart speaker manufacturers, but most of them played the role of "assembly factory". They buy voice systems and solutions, and then paste their own brands and deliver them to distributors. The intelligent sound box that consumers pay a high price for, but the user experience is not ideal, the accuracy of speech recognition is low, the interactive scene is limited, and the sound quality is difficult to match professional products. At that time, the intelligent sound box did not completely become an intelligent product to realize the intellectualization and convenience of people's life.
Since 2018, Alibaba, Baidu, Xiaomi, Tencent and other giants have entered the market one after another. Compared with the profits of the smart speaker itself, they attach more importance to the voice of voice interaction and the new entrance of mobile internet, launching an all-round attack on the smart speaker market.
Xiaomi gave 299 yuan of cost price directly when it released Xiao Ai speakers in mid-2017, breaking the price balance of smart speakers. Then Alibaba and Baidu quickly entered the stadium, driving the price of the smart speaker down to 89 yuan, which was almost a free gift. In a short period of one year, 95% of the "players" withdrew. Alibaba, Baidu and Xiaomi accounted for the bulk of the shipments, bringing the smart speaker market back on track and opening up a dispute between technology and user experience.
From Single Product Competition to Product Matrix
Although the number of new brands of smart speakers is decreasing, the number of models is increasing. Hardware layout is moving from single product competition to product matrix. Mainstream manufacturers are beginning to attach importance to the research and development of product functions and contents. The continuous progress of voice technology and chip technology is pushing products to become more and more functional. Voice print recognition, voice call and other functions better meet the needs of consumers. Waterproof and wireless charging are built into the intelligent sound box. Infrared remote control can control traditional household appliances through the intelligent sound box.
In 2019, Xiaomi and Baidu successively released intelligent speakers with built-in infrared gateways. The intelligent sound box adds infrared control capability. On the one hand, it can transform traditional household appliances and bring convenient user experience. On the other hand, families without smart homes can also enjoy the experience of voice smart homes without large-scale replacement of electrical appliances, which plays an important role in the development of smart speaker market.
In addition, with the development of Bluetooth voice and other technologies, intelligent speakers are increasingly joining the Bluetooth transmission protocol. At present, many AI giants including Amazon, Google, Baidu, Alibaba and Xiaomi have also begun to develop technologies and products related to Bluetooth intelligent voice.
With the gradual warming up of differentiated competition of products, consumers' choice of smart speakers has gradually stepped out of the stage of early taste and begun to pay more attention to whether the products meet the needs. Some consumers said that the voice dialogue function of the smart speaker can really make their life more convenient, but their thirst for vision has not been satisfied. "Now they are accustomed to using mobile phones, suddenly they only deal with sound, and they always feel a little less," Ms. Wang, who used the early smart speaker products, told the Workers' Daily reporter.
Nowadays, mainstream manufacturers in the market are involved in the development of screens+smart speakers. The Tmall genie CC has a 6.95-inch display screen, and the one-second screen at home has reached 7 inches. Intelligent speaker with screen skillfully integrates audio-visual ability and has a more natural interaction mode. In terms of service, the screen brings more imagination. In the past few months, various manufacturers have introduced new products with screens, and have tried to bring more intelligent experiences to users through screens.
Outside the screen, various cameras and sensors have gradually become the focus of major manufacturers: the small size of built-in distance sensors can remind children to keep a distance from the screen at home; Nest Hub Max, the newly added camera, can recognize users through their faces and match content that meets their preferences according to different users. Facebook Portal equipped with a visual tracking system can automatically lock the user's position to ensure that the portrait is always presented on the screen with the best display effect.
Behind the product is a larger ecological circle.
In meeting the needs of the audience, Baidu has made more detailed differentiation and subdivision. Having a small screen at home takes meeting the needs of the family as its mission and provides visualization skills and remote care capabilities. The small-scale intelligent sound box with high cost performance cuts into young people who like to taste fresh. The upgraded version of the small-scale intelligent speaker Pro caters to the users' pursuit of high sound quality. The small-scale vehicle-mounted voice support also meets the need of the vehicle group to call for small scale. The small-scale TV companion with the temperament of home cinema has solved the interactive pain point of traditional e-commerce ... Smart speaker is no longer a product, but a category.
Apart from smart speakers, Google has demonstrated the charm of mobile phone voice assistants with a new generation of Google Assistant. Apple brings a more efficient Siri； to the new generation of AirPods; Alibaba has released Queen Smart Mirror, a cat elf, to put on women's dressing table with beautiful makeup ... It can be seen that derivatives of smart speakers are penetrating into various more detailed life scenes such as homes, personal entourage, cars, hotels and so on, with strong vitality.
According to the global smart speaker shipments report for Q1 2019 released recently by market research organization Canalys, the global smart speaker shipments are about 20.7 million units, and the Chinese market is growing rapidly, surpassing the United States to become the largest market for smart speakers in the world, with a growth rate of up to 500%. Canalys predicts that the global smart speaker market will exceed 200 million units in 2019, and the sales volume of China's smart speaker market is expected to reach 59 million units in 2019.
Industry experts suggest that the smart speaker market is still in its initial stage and it is not enough to bring users the ultimate experience of human-computer voice interaction. After all, the current smart phones can already meet the basic needs of most users. In order to occupy a place in the smart terminal market, smart speakers need to further explore user needs and high and new technologies, and develop intelligent and convenient services different from mobile phones.