China’s phenomenal adoption rate for smart speakers makes it a market to watch for future developments in this space. In particular, Baidu has seen a 711 percent quarter-on-quarter growth in China’s smart speaker market in the space of one quarter alone.
Our close collaboration with Baidu and Ainemo allowed us to be in the trenches with them as they ride on this success.
China’s push to compete in domestic smart speakers market
Smart speaker adoption rate in China is following a pattern similar to the U.S. Based on an Q3 2018 report by Canalys, a U.K.-based market research firm, the rapid adoption by Chinese consumers vaulted China to about 30% of global smart speaker unit sales in Q2 2018, up from nearly zero three quarters earlier. In particular, Baidu has seen a 711 percent quarter-on-quarter growth in China’s smart speaker market in the space of one quarter alone.
“China’s smart speaker market has quickly become a battlefield for only the big names, and it will be hard for the smaller players to catch up in terms of market share. Although the real level of user demand for speaker products is currently unproven, China is on its way to overtake the US in the near term.” Hattie He, research analyst at Canalys.
In the absence of Amazon in the marketplace, China’s tech giants are rushing to make their own voice-enabled AI-devices for the domestic market. The competition also means that this category of products will remain separate from the rest of world, much like China’s own version of search engines, e-commerce platforms, ride-sharing services, and other pillars of the Internet.
Baidu 百度 is the leading Chinese language Internet search provider and one of the biggest web companies in China. It is also becoming the dominant player in the ever-growing smart assistant market in China, very much in the same way Amazon and Google are in the US.
According to Strategy Analytics, Baidu ranked fourth in its share of the global AI assistant market, during the fourth quarter of 2018, and number two in China. By the end of December 2018, the total installments of DuerOS – Baidu’s conversational AI platform that powers smart speakers and other voice activated devices – reached 200 million and total voice queries doubled for the past eight consecutive quarters, reaching 1.6 billion in December, 2018.
“We are seeing voice input gaining huge adoption in China. By leveraging Baidu’s AI technology, which has the largest indexing of Chinese webpages and a better multi-modal semantic understanding of the Chinese language, DuerOS is uniquely positioned for the shift to conversational AI in China.” Jing Kun, General Manager of Baidu’s Smart Living Group.
In partnership with Ainemo, a Beijing hardware startup, Baidu has built Xiaoyu Zaijia ("Little Fish"), the first smart speaker with a touchscreen and camera that enables facial recognition, visual interface and video chat. Compared to smart speakers without screens, it can display more content and information.
Users are able to watch videos, look at photos, make video calls and search the internet, or adjust smart home controlsusing either their voice or hands. Moreover, they can order meals, groceries and medicines with voice commands, thanks to DuerOS, Baidu’s voice-recognition software. For added home security, a unique feature enables users to call in to Little Fish from your phone and pan its camera remotely around the home for security surveillance.
Our close partnership with Xiaodu Zaijia 小度在家
Our collaboration with Ainemo began in 2017 and it has been an interesting journey learning to work effectively with a Chinese company. When we first started out, Little Fish was the first product in the market aimed at families who wanted to keep in touch despite geographical distances. Y Studios was hired to design the second generation product with the aim to elevate Little Fish to the top of its category. After numerous reiterations of brand and product name changes, Little Fish is now officially known as Xiaodu Zaijia 小度在家, in recognition of its partnership with Baidu.
The Xiaodu Zaijia 小度在家 Smart Video Speaker VS1 is the first of many products we are designing for Xiaodu Zaijia. The AI-enabled device connects family members with natural language human-machine interactions to enable video calls, music streaming, voice search and smart home controls.
As creative partner to Xiaodu Zaijia’s vision, Y Studios was instrumental in developing a comprehensive program that included design research, brand strategy, packaging design, industrial design, CMF development, product animation video and website design.
VS1 was launched at CES in January 2018 and it started retailing in China around March 2018 for RMB 599 (around US$ 95). It quickly became a hit in China, selling out consistently and winning design awards within a few months of its launch. Not only did it claim Best Smart Home Product Award at CES Asia 2018, it also won the Excellent Prize for China Red Star Design Award 红星奖, a prestigious competition established in 2006 by the China Industrial Design Association (CIDA) to encourage good design and promote the design industry.
Following the success of VS1, Xiaodu 小度 Smart Display 1S is the latest addition to the next generation of Baidu’s AI-based IoT smart devices for China.
It was officially launched on February 28, 2019 at the Baidu press event in Beijing. Our founder, Wai, was present to talk about the thinking behind the design of 1S. We are honored to have the opportunity to present our work and how we design the products for our collaboration with Baidu and Ainemo.
Boom time for smart speakers
According to a research report from Strategy Analytics, a market research consultancy, the number of smart speakers will increase tenfold from 2017 to 2022, reaching a market size of more than $5.5 billion.
Analysts say the screen-enabled smart speakers will become a trend and have also gradually become an indispensable family appliance in many homes. As consumers become more accustomed to mobile devices with a large screen, the screen-enabled smart speaker with more interactive functions will be favored by more consumers.
Our close partnership continues with more products coming in the very near future! In the meantime, check out the Xiaodu Zaijia 小度在家 Smart Video Speaker VS1 at zaijia.com
About Baidu 百度 and Xiaodu Zaijia 小度在家
Baidu, Inc. is the leading Chinese language Internet search provider. Baidu aims to make a complex world simpler for users and enterprises through technology. Xiaodu Zaijia 小度在家was jointly developed by Baidu and Ainemo Inc., China’s top technology driven consumer electronic company.
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