After the battle for cloud services, Google and Amazon seem to have found a new battlefield, our homes. In the race “who will be your AI home assistant” it looks like Amazon started with a head start, but Google Home is catching up fast.
What is an AI home assistant?
Forget typing into a keypad or pushing buttons on a phone to make calls, access apps or play music. Thanks to the latest voice activated technology you can now do all this and more, simply by talking into a device. We're not talking about Bluetooth speakers here. We're talking about speakers that live in your house, permanently plugged in and connected to the internet. In the case of Amazon's Echo line, you're speaking to Alexa; in the case of Google's Home line, you're speaking to Google Assistant.
The operating system of the future.
AI assistant companies are trying to expand their technology to as much devices as possible.
Why is that? Synchronisation is everything!
It’s important to have the same assistant on as much home devices as possible: smartphone, tv, fridge, car, radio,... . Let’s say for example that, at home, you dictated your shopping list, but you don’t have the same assistant on your smartphone. You won’t be able to access your list at the shop.
Creating an ecosystem where all day long users interact with their products and collecting all that user data is the key goal of these companies. Futurists would also dare say that the one who has the most used assistant has also the future of the OS in hands.
Google Home vs Alexa.
Currently there are three assistant technologies on the market: Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple Siri. Amazon’s Alexa remains the most advanced with products like the Echo Dot being a particularly good value for those looking to dip their toes into the smart home space.
In the race “who will be your AI home assistant” it looks like Amazon started with a head start. However, Google is fast catching up and in 2018 we predict major advances from the search giant.
Google Home can understand context much better than Amazon Echo so, for example, if you don’t know the name of the Eminem song but you know that it features Rihanna, it should still find the track ‘Love the Way You Lie’. Similarly, if you ask a question about where was Adele born and then follow up with ‘tell me how many Grammys has she won?’ Google Home will know you are still talking about Adele.
As for Siri, it seems that Apple – once the pioneer of voice activated technology – has now dropped to the back of the pack.
Context is queen!
Of the three main voice technology platforms Google Home probably has the most developed ‘brain’ thanks to its integration with Google’s search engine. And that is where it’s get interesting.
For some time now context has become a big deal for the search engine. Content marketers needed to adapt their strategy. Google SEO optimisation has changed, just inserting keywords on your website doesn’t do it anymore.
The focus has shifted to context and relevance between search queries, different pages and different websites. All this to anticipate the growth of AI devices and voice search. You wouldn’t launch a voice search saying weather Val Gardena Saturday, you’d go “hey Google” or “Alexa” “what will the weather be like this weekend in Val Gardena?” Thus the arrival of long tail/ conversational phrase approach.
But not only at home.
After Ford and BMW, also Toyota is joining in. Later on this year their cars will have, as a standard feature, native support for Alexa. At first this option will be available on the Entune 3.0 app suite and Lexus Enform App Suite 2.0. As of next year others models will follow. Using Alexa drivers will receive news updates, talk to their media system, record shopping lists and so much more.
Amazon is also targeting big on enterprise. Even in the office Alexa could be used for booking meetings and conference rooms, calendaring/scheduling events, joining conference calls, retrieving data during meetings or presentations, executing “smart home” functions in the office like adjusting thermostats, turning on lights and more.
There’s enormous potential in the enterprise to build or integrate with productivity tools that actually help people or groups accomplish specific tasks.
So, what’s the score at this point?
Google, IBM, Microsoft and Apple, any cloud services or AI company, will need to respond sooner rather than later. Alexa has such a head start in the home, with a roughly 70 percent (or greater) market share worldwide. At this point Amazon has the advantage.