Google Home is arriving in South Korea on September 18, and will be available for 145,000 Korean won (about US$129), while Google Home Mini will be priced at 59,900 Korean won (about US$53), according to local media.
Google Assistant has been known to speak Korean since 2017, but was limited to Android smartphones. Google put Google Assistant in the Android Auto car operating system in South Korea recently, and the Google Home will be the next major launch as the company completes its AI service offering in the country.
South Korea has the world’s third largest smart speaker market in terms of unit sales as of the first quarter of 2018, according to research firm Canalys’ data. The U.S. (45.6%) and China (20%) won the first and second places.
South Koreans are not unfamiliar to smart speakers. SK Telecom, a South Korean telecommunication service provider, introduced its own AI smart speaker NUGU back in August 2016 and another portable version NUGU Mini a year later. Another telecom firm Korea Telecom released the GiGA Genie in January 2017.
South Korean search engine Naver and its subsidiary messaging app Line have launched the Naver Wave and Naver Friends smart speakers in 2017. Another messaging app Kakao introduced Kakao Mini in November 2017.
All these smart speakers in South Korea are created by telecommunication firms or messaging app providers. People interact with their services or products every day.
Samsung, the biggest consumer electronics company in South Korea, will also launch its own smart speaker, the Galaxy Home, very soon. Its voice assistant Bixby has already been used in the country. The upcoming smart speaker could be a big threat to Google Home’s gaining a good foothold in the country. In the end, Google is likely to face fierce competition in the local market.
Google’s advantage is that its Android operating system has a 71.5% market share in South Korea, according to the data from Statcounter. Google also has other popular services, including Google Maps and Google Search, to help it differentiate from other smart speaker makers.
Amazon, on the other hand, does not have online shopping presence in South Korea. As such, it may take another while for the Echo speakers to appear there.