Last week Google announced that the Google Assistant was available on 400 million devices. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week it’s announcing new device partnerships.
Amazon is also making announcements 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.
It’s safe to say 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.
However, last week Google said there was robust demand for Google Home. The company asserted it has “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 the entirety of Google Home sales but it suggests that the totality of devices sold is below 10 million.
Google also announced a new device category (“smart displays”) as well as the adoption of Google Assistant by a range of smart speaker, headphone and TV manufacturers. New smart speaker partners include Bang & Olufsen, Braven, iHome, JBL, Jensen, LG, Klipsch, Knit Audio, Memorex and SōLIS. Headphone partners include JBL, LG, Jaybird and Sony.
Devices with “smart displays” (see video below) will come from JBL, Lenovo, LG and Sony. Google was rumored to be working on its own answer to the Amazon Echo Show, which has a screen. It’s not clear if a Google Home branded smart screen device is still in the works or if it will rely on third parties instead.
A screen creates a range of new marketing, commerce and other possibilities, for brands, publishers and marketers, beyond those available on screen-free devices like the Home and Home Mini.
The new smart screen 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. In addition to existing offerings from Sony and NVIDIA, introduced last year, makers including TCL, Element, Hisense, Westinghouse and LG will be integrating the Google Assistant in new or existing Android TV models.
Google said its Assistant will also roll out to all cars that feature Android Auto, now available from most major car makers on more than 400 models. Google assistant is also compatible with more than 1,500 smart home devices and accessories.
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