The natural evolution of the relationship we have with the internet continues.  If you are ready, the internet can be an invisible presence in your home that is always listening for your next question or instruction.  The domination of this ambient internet age is what Amazon and Google are fighting over and at least in our homes it has arrived.  Google, long known as the front door of the internet, is now exercising its large software advantage to maintain that presence as the gatekeeper for everyone interacting with the internet using their voices.  The artificial intelligence behind Alexa and the Google Assistant will continue to be refined and improved.  As those assistants get better at giving us what we want and anticipating what we need, Google has an advantage.  Being the front door of the internet has given Google 25+ years of search queries with which to guide their enhancement of this consumer-level artificial intelligence.

Certainly not a company to sit still, last month Amazon revealed 12 new devices.  Newsworthy reboots included a redesigned Echo Dot and Echo Show while new products include a Smart Plug, a Microwave, and the Echo Auto that will let you take Alexa with you for a drive.  This September to Remember” for Amazon continues the theme we’ve seen throughout 2018, with Amazon and Alexa running ahead in the race to be the smartest family member in our homes.  Most of this narrative comes from the first to market strategy that Amazon has enjoyed.  In 2014 the Amazon Echo was launched, and Alexa enjoyed nearly two full years before being challenged by the Google Home smart speaker.  This pattern nearly repeated itself twice; first when the Echo Dot enjoyed 18 months before being challenged by the Google Home Mini and then again when it took 18 months for the Google Home Hub to challenge the Echo Show.  The market share splits at mid-year for the products show what you would expect for a consumer item that has no natural rival for a span of two holiday seasons; relevant players Amazon at 70% and Google at 24% dominate the smart speaker market.

Alexa truly is everywhere; to get your fix simply choose one of the 20 + speakers etc. that are available.  While Amazon continues to give us new ways to bring Alexa home, Google is focused on hitting the target of what consumers are asking for.  One example is the Google Home Hub which is a smart display that combines a touchscreen you can use to control other smart devices, watch video, and look at pictures with a voice-controlled smart speaker.  The easy to use touchscreen and intuitive voice commands allow even tech-challenged members of the family to take advantage of the new resource.  The Google Home Hub is the only smart display that doesn’t yet include a camera which might steer some consumers away, but for the privacy-minded folks this device is a hit.  At an affordable price point ($149) the Google Home Hub is positioned to be a star this holiday season which could have a significant impact on the battle between Alexa and the Google Assistant.  The battlefield will move to public places and the places we work long before a clear winner emerges in our homes.  Perhaps you should start thinking of what you will ask Alexa at the zoo or which conference room you will book using the Google Assistant for the Halloween office party next year. 


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