A huge space for development is beckoning to vendors
Editor’s note: This article is from WeChat public account “A little finance” (ID: yidiancaijing), author Liu Yajie, editor Qiu Yun.
When people lament that the smartphone market has become a scorched earth, isn’t the smart speaker market so different?
But the number of players can be small and innovation can’t be less. Smart speakers can’t live on the curiosity of consumers, or look for differentiation of their products and enrich product features.
Five years ago, smartphones were the new darling of the mobile era, and now they are replaced with smart speakers.
The mature chip and component supply chain, the custom-developed system layer application, and the massive audio resources that are banned by IP licensing, support the simple and straightforward product style of smart speakers. The smart phone set up a complete production system to help the smart speaker compress the BOM (Bill of Material) cost to 100 yuan or even lower, so that the “mobile phone + speaker” flew into the homes of ordinary people.
However, after Internet vendors decided to enter the market, everything became extremely complicated and out of the ordinary: selling at below cost, bundling all kinds of services, and sticking money to make users cheaper – used to bomb phones, The means of home appliances and new energy vehicles are now to be played again. The market that has been contending for a hundred schools is instantly occupied by the oligarchs in the highlands, and finally the player has only B (Baidu) A (Ali) M (Millet).
The three companies have different businesses and different forms. Why did they choose the same target? It is clearly a fertile ground to be reclaimed. Why is it not a grass now? What are the similarities and differences between the BAMs in their respective layouts?
Some of these questions already have an answer.
In the tech world, opportunities like smart speakers are running out.
According to eMarketer’s “2019 Smart Speaker Market Trends” forecast, China will have 85.5 million smart speaker users in 2019, exceeding the number of 74.2 million users in the US, and more importantly, although shipments are growing rapidly, The penetration rate of domestic smart speakers is only 10%, far lower than the penetration rate of 26% in the United States: the huge development space is waving to manufacturers.
After hearing the news, the manufacturer beeAll kinds of smart speakers come out in an endless stream. However, after the big waves, the smart speaker cake is quickly being eaten by the head company. Especially in the Chinese market, an e-commerce company, an Internet company, and a mobile phone manufacturer have jointly dominated the Chinese smart speaker market, accounting for nearly 90% of the market.
Himalayan, Tencent, Suning, Jingdong, Glory and other manufacturers have also launched their own products, but from the results, the corresponding product shipments are limited, far from the height of BAM.
BAM has Internet genes. Although Xiaomi uses hardware as its core business, Lei Jun is an “Internet company” and wants to have a place in the Internet of Things market. This is the fundamental reason for them to make the same choice. However, there is a big difference between the three companies in the attitude of capturing the market.
02 Baidu: I am desperate to fight with you
“Search is the foundation of Baidu and is the core value of Baidu.” After the release of the second quarter earnings report in 2019, Li Yanhong said in the company’s internal letter.
In a sense, Baidu is a company that relies on questions to survive: after the user has a question, he opens the search box, waits for Baidu to push the information after entering the question, and Baidu finds the final answer for the user after screening.
However, with the development of the market, this interactive mode of the PC era has fallen behind, and users are more accustomed to searching for information on mobile platforms. The survey results show that in the face of complex problems, there are two changes in user search behavior: on the one hand, the way to ask questions is different, the text gradually turns to “text + speech”, and even needs to integrate multiple elements such as vision; on the other hand, looking for answers The channel has changed, and more than 80% of users will continue to check the information after searching.
“In the mobile era, we have nothing to work harder.” In an interview with Wired magazine in 2017, Li Yanhong realized the situation of Baidu. The market value of 36.9 billion US dollars can no longer be compared with traditional Internet giants such as Tencent and Ali. There is no substantive measure. After that, it is difficult to turn around. Baidu adjustment is imperative.
This year, it is also the year of the explosion of smart speakers. Domestic Ali, Tencent, Xiaomi, etc. have launched related products. However, the market is still in the enlightenment. According to GfK data, the sales volume of China’s smart speakers in 2017 is around 350,000 units, and sales are expected to soar in 2018.
In 2018, Baidu finally joined the battle center with “smallness at home”. Since then, Li Yanhong once stressed that Baidu isThe world’s first to launch a smart speaker with a screen, and later Amazon, Google and other similar products.
This is Baidu’s backwaters. There is no other way out. So regardless of the intensity of the investment or the capacity of the integrated resources, it has reached an unprecedented height. “(Baidu Smart Speaker Subsidy) There is no (stop) schedule yet, and it is still in the investment stage.” Baidu DuerOS official Jing Jing said.
Li Yanhong said that Baidu plans to spend 15% of its revenue on R&D every year. According to the annual revenue of 102.3 billion yuan in 2018, the R&D investment in 2019 will be no less than 15 billion yuan. “All inputs are related to AI.” Li Yanhong added.
The battle of smart speakers, Baidu has lost.
03 Ali: Data is the only direction
For many people, Ali’s entry into the smart speaker market is out of plan and reasonable.
There is a hardware dream to do content, and there is a content heart in hardware. This seems to have become the norm. As early as 2013, there was news that Ali was testing the Tmall Box. After occupying the mobile phone, it tried to enter the TV and the family. Together with it, Alibaba Cloud OS, and later relying on this platform, Ali further developed into the family, car and other scenes through cooperation with Midea, Cybo, Roewe and so on.
Of course, this kind of scenario-oriented hardware exploration doesn’t seem to be a success.
In essence, Ali’s core competitiveness lies in “energy-enabled enterprises”. Through cloud computing, big data and other means, high-value data and information are mined and finally delivered to customers through various platforms. The rise of the concept of the Internet of Things, represented by smart homes, is bound to generate massive amounts of information in the home scene. Smart speakers are the link between the front-end users and the rear computing platform. Therefore, Ali’s smart speakers can be said to be logical.
In order to build a new business model in the new scene and integrate existing resources, Ali has integrated the voice recognition and information analysis processing functions through AliGenie, and its smart speakers also integrate the hungry take-out service, as well as Taobao and Tian. Cat’s online shopping function – this becomes the key to its competitive differentiation.
Layout smart speakers, Ali is looking for data, so as long as the interface is placed in the user’s home, keep the information flow, you can achieve the ultimate goal. As for whether the hardware placed in the user’s home is a Tmall or a other product, it is not important, as long as the data pipeline is connected to the Ali backend. In the early stages of development, for the sake of