Chinese internet search giant Baidu is banking on the rapid growth of the smart speaker market in China and stepping up efforts to conduct research on speech interaction technologies. Credit: Handout.

I have to admit, I love my smart speaker. I won’t say what brand or make it is, but let’s just say, it does the job — weather, sports, news, a Sinatra song, whatever … all I have to do is ask, and it will deliver.

So it’s no surprise to me that smart speaker sales reached 19.08 million units in China in the first half of this year, rising 22.7% compared with the same period last year, China Daily reported.

Related sales revenue also totaled 3.56 billion yuan (US$511.6 million), an increase of 18.3% year-on-year, according to market consultancy All View Cloud.

AVC predicted sales of smart speakers will amount to 42.6 million units in 2020, up 15.7% on a yearly basis, despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 outbreak, China Daily reported.

The top three Chinese vendors, including Alibaba, Baidu and Xiaomi, accounted for 95.6% of overall market share during the January to June period.

In just two years since its emergence in the Chinese market, smart speakers have evolved from niche gadgets into one of the most popular electronic devices in Chinese households, making the country the largest market for the product worldwide.

Wang Jun, an All View Cloud analyst, said the demand for online education has surged during the outbreak, and smart speakers equipped with displays are becoming increasingly popular among tech-savvy consumers, China Daily reported.

Chinese internet search giant Baidu is banking on the rapid growth of the smart speaker market in China and stepping up efforts to conduct research on speech interaction technologies.

The smart voice assistant sector is at the dawn of explosive growth, said Jing Kun, corporate vice-president of Baidu and general manager of Baidu’s smart living group, while noting people spent more time watching videos by virtue of Xiaodu smart speakers with a build-in touch screen during the pandemic, China Daily reported.

“The next phase of the development of the smart voice sector is ‘breaking the circle of simply general-purpose use.’ In my opinion, there are two ways to do so,” Jing said.

“One is specifying features to target groups of users to better satisfy their needs, such as families with kids. That’s breaking the circle from existing products.

“The other way is to extend application scenarios beyond the home. We will release some portable products in the second half of the year, hoping that a brand new set of scenarios will form,” Jing said.

According to a 2019 report released by market research firm Strategy Analytics, some 59% of respondents said that they can’t imagine living without the gadget, Technode reported.

Around 63% of the individuals surveyed who do not currently use a smart speaker plan to buy one within the next year, said the report. Another 22% said they planned to purchase one later.

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