The smart speaker is on the rise now especially in the United States where eCommerce giant Amazon is pushing aggressively on smart home front. Intuitively thinking about who is going to win this smart speaker (virtual artificial assistant) war, Google should be the unanimous winner since their entire core technology is surrounded by all those algorithms making this world smarter every single second. In addition, they have the colossal data about almost everyone who has the internet access on the planet of earth (maybe some aliens who has the access to the our internet assess on the earth too ;)). They should be an obvious winner on this front, isn’t it?
The Very First Glance
1) Youtube 2) Google Search 3) Phone Calls
Winner – Google
As we mentioned in the opening, Google has all it takes to get down to the bottom to win this vicious battle. It has the infrastructure, the data, the brand, the market, … almost everything needed to take down all its competitors. For instance, the Youtube universe makes Google Home an apparent first choice for the smart home entertaining hub. It’s so blatant that Google isn’t going to open this turf for other competitors (e.g., Youtube integration on other smart speakers); therefore, no one except Google Home can access this “MUST” feature to provide a “MUST” home entertaining service for millions and, later on potentially, billions of target users.
Note: You can have a magical setup for the voice commands only approach to play Youtube videos or even Netflix videos via Google Home to your TV. You will need to have a Chromcast linked with your Google Home though.
Just ask yourself this question that “which search engine do I use daily?” Even if you are a tech expert, you will definitely involved in Google search despite you might not like it and use others such as duckduckgo.com as your default search as well. However, for main stream users, Google is just their everything… you know … everything Google. They call it “Google God“. The market share is more than 81% globally. So … this is an indestructible advantage to win the smart speaker war and Google has to take advantage of it early on before something dramatically changed main stream consumers’ taste… as we all know, it happens so often in so many cases on the history book already.
Early this year, Google announced it would integrate the phone call ability to Google Home. And now, they delivered. You can make phone calls through your Google Home. It’s like you just use the Google voice to make phone calls – only through voice commands and Google Home delivers. You can make calls to anywhere in the world and the rate is extremely cheap. Also, the phone calls to United States and Canada are FREE … including landline and cellphone calls. Simply linked your Google account (or accounts since Google Home supports multi-users feature) with your Google Home and Google Home will access your contact list that you saved with Google. Then … simply say “OK, Google. Call my mom.” You will be magically using your Google Home talking with your mom. Of course, you can call anyone whose contact information you saved on your Google account. This is awesome, right? Imagine that you are in the kitchen cooking and, suddenly, you want to talk to your mom or your friends about something BUT your hands are messy and you don’t wanna grab a phone to make calls… simply ask your Google Home to do so. It’s a truly hands-free calling feature offered by one of the smartest assistant in the world.
The 2nd Look – The Smart Home Integration Angle
1) Entertaining value 2) Smart Home integration (e.g., if it's supported and the degree of difficulty to set it up) 3) Other add-ons including future developments perspective
Winner: Alexa (Amazon Echo Device)
Sure, Google has Youtube universe to provide unique values to this market; however, you will need to pay $10 USD per month (in the United States) to have this feature seamlessly integrated with your smart speaker. If you don’t have that $10 Youtube RED subscription with Google, you will just hear your Google Home assistant not so pleasant replies which is refusing to play Youtube contents as you request.
Netflix & Amazon Prime Videos
However, on the other hands, Amazon provides another unique value from this angle. We all know the market leader of movies and tv shows streaming service is Netflix; hence, having the integration of it inside of the smart speaker is the must. And… yes, both Google Home and Amazon Echo has done that even though via a slightly different approach though (e.g., although you cannot link your Netflix account directly in Alexa app yet, you are able to set it up with Fire TV along with Alexa).
The unique value on this is “Amazon Prime Videos” which Amazon puts onto its famous AI assistant’s, Alexa, hands to provide a seamless voice control for its users. For sure that Amazon won’t open up to its competitors. Therefore, if you want to access Amazon prime video library by just asking your virtual AI assistant, you should go for Alexa.
Others – Musics, Books, Audible Books?
Unlike Google that you need to pay extra $ for separate subscription plans to get other add-on values such as Google Play Music and Youtube RED (if you want to access both, you will need to pay $20 monthly); Amazon’s prime membership ($10.99 per month or $99 per year) provides your all the goodies that you cannot live without nowadays (if you live in the US). It’s about 10 bucks per month that you can get video, music, books, audible books, and most importantly, you get free 2-days shipping (in some area you can get one day shipping or even 1-hour shipping for free) if you purchase items on Amazon.com. So… tell us which one would you choose if solely based on the entertaining value?
Smart Home Integration
If you already tried it, you would know that Amazon is just way way way ahead in this game. The sheer number of the supported devices is just way bigger than Google Home. Put it this way… you can simply count through the supported devices/manufacturers on Google Home platform BUT you cannot read through all those on the Amazon Alexa’s list. Since more and more (it’s really a lot of them) companies are jumping into this smart home devices pool to make smart products such as smart lights, smart plugs, smart blankets, smart beds, smart tables, smart appliances… etc., you need to have Amazon Alexa to be certain that you can set up your smart home properly. If you use Google Home, most likely you will find that your smart products just haven’t been supported yet. That’s right — Amazon has the first mover advantage here and it’s not going to go away anytime soon.
Other add-ons Including Future Developments Perspective
It’s like Alexa is becoming “THE” operating system on the smart home turf (take a look at her skill sets… it’s just enormous and it is up to a point that you can almost use the phrase, “There is an app (a skill) for that”, that Apple used on its App Store when it started showing the dominance years back). Google should be the one who knows this the most when it became the de facto Internet Search Operating System. There is nothing you can do when that happens; therefore, Google is doing all it takes to prevent that being happening. If that happens, Amazon will certainly erode into Google’s home turf which is “Internet Search” and … Google will be put into a defensive position and … most likely… will gradually hand over the throne to Amazon.
Winner – Amazon Alexa (so far)
From the value added angel and the “future smart home operating system” point, Amazon is striking very hard on its competitors and no one has any effective counterpunches yet. If you wanna bet on the future smart home system, Alexa is your best bet as of today (well… in a foreseeable future too).