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January 9, 2018

voice asssistant war between google and amazon hots up



According to a Google  blog post this morning, “The Google Assistant is now available on more than 400 million devices.” When Google says “devices” it’s including Android smartphones, tablets, TVs, headphones and Google Home smart speakers. However its not clear how many Google Home, Mini and Max speakers were sold in 2017.

In terms of numbers Four hundred million is huge  but that includes mostly Android smartphones. Based on a review of data from NPR, Strategy Analytics and Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, it appears that Google Home has roughly a 25 percent share of the US smart speaker market.Specifically, Strategy Analytics estimated that Google’s share of Q4 smart speaker sales was 24%.Walker Sands (“Future of Retail 2017“), in a survey of 1,622 US adults, found that about 23% respondents owned a smart speaker. If the results can be generalised to the broader population, then something like 56 million assistant-powered speakers are in US homes today. The survey was conducted in late Q3 or early Q4, before Christmas.

Meanwhile Rival Amazon is also making announcements at CES with a range of device makers. Alexa is being integrated into a set of expensive augmented reality glasses ($1,000) from Vuzix. More significantly, it will be added to PCs and laptops from Acer, Asus and HP. This represents a significant potential challenge to Cortana. Meanwhile data suggests that Amazon has now taken over from Apple as the virtual assistant leader, if not in absolute device numbers then in terms of visibility and momentum.

According to a range of third party estimates, Amazon has roughly three-fourths of the smart speaker market to Google’s 25 percent.Suggesting that it’s gaining on Alexa, last week Google said there was robust demand for Google Home. The company asserted it “sold more than one Google Home every second since Google Home Mini started shipping in October.” That means, since approximately October 19, Google has sold nearly 7 million devices. That’s not all of Google Home sales but suggests the totality of devices sold is below 10 million.

Last year, Alexa was the clear winner of CES, with companies like Ford, Huawei, and LG agreeing to integrate their products with Amazon's virtual assistant. Since then, Alexa has only gotten bigger - Amazon says that it sold " tens of millions " of Alexa-enabled products, led by its own Amazon Echo Dot, over the holiday season. 

Among the list of devices the Google Assistant is being integrated into are “smart displays”.They will initially come from JBL, Lenovo, LG and Sony. Google was rumoured to be working on its own answer to the Amazon Echo Show, which will have a screen.It’s not clear if a Google Home branded smart screen device is still in the works or if the company will rely on these and other third parties instead. The screen creates a range of obvious new user experience possibilities as well as new marketing and commerce capabilities for brands, publishers and marketers. That same potential with the Echo Show has to date been mostly unrealised.

The new smart screen Google Assistant devices will make video calls, access Google Photos and show YouTube videos.Amazon’s Echo Show and Fire TV have been blocked from showing YouTube for allegedly violating Google’s terms of service and not offering Google products reciprocity on Amazon.com. The Google Assistant is also coming to more smart TVs this year In addition to existing offerings from Sony and NVIDIA, introduced last year, TV makers integrating the Assistant include including TCL, Element, Hisense, Westinghouse and LG.

While Alexa for screens works exclusively with Amazon's own echo hardware,Google Assistant  is compatible with devices made by other companies including new models from Sony ,LG,Lenevo, and JBL, a brand of Samsung's Harman division.


As of now Amazon seems ahead of the competition as got in on the smart speaker market early, and has moved quickly to ensure its stays out in front. Now, by most measures, the Amazon Echo is dominating the smart speaker market . The company has built on the lead with an avalanche of new hardware released in the last year: The tablet-like Echo Show, which has a screen; the Echo Look fashion camera; the Echo Plus home hub; the Echo Spot alarm clock; the redesigned Echo.

Plus, partners like Sonos and Ecobee have released their own products with Alexa built in, so you can talk to (and shop from) Amazon from an ever-increasing number of places. And with 30,000 skills, or apps , now available for Alexa, customers can do a lot more with those devices - giving them fewer reasons to switch. This is all a part of Amazon's ongoing playbook to get Alexa everywhere. Now, with its market share established and its position looking to be firmly entrenched, Amazon is entering a new phase in its master plan.


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