Amazon Echo Leaves the Door Open for Google Home

Posted October 4th 2016


via The Verge

Using the home as a staging post for digital assistants has been a canny move. It makes sense for a number of reasons — not just because talking to your computer is awkward in public (it completely is), but because your house is where you’re most likely to need a voice interface (e.g., while cooking, in the shower, lying on the couch while the phone is charging elsewhere). It’s also a boon for families where every person doesn’t have a smartphone, and if you don’t already own a Bluetooth speaker, then devices like the Echo kill two birds with one stone. You get something to play music on in your kitchen or living room, and the extra functions — answering questions, setting up timers, helping with your shopping — are an added bonus.

Google can probably do better. Amazon may have a 1,000-strong team working on the Echo with plans to hire hundreds more, but Google’s machine learning expertise is probably unrivaled in the industry. It’s been working on natural language processing far longer than Amazon, and one-fifth of US searches on Android are done using voice.

Going into today’s Pixel conference, Google is playing catch-up to Amazon in the home assistant space. Echo was released in 2014, has reportedly sold 3.5 million units and projects 10 million sales next year. That being said, The Verge‘s James Vincent believes Google is in a position – with its superior machine learning technology, and expansive ecosystem – to deliver where Amazon has fallen short, saying, “Google’s Home hub could overcome Amazon Echo’s significant head start and — more importantly — give it a jump on the future.”