Since it’s arrival into the marketplace 3 years ago, Amazon Alexa has held the lions share of the Smart Speaker market. The cost, availability and some ferocious marketing from Amazon have all helped it to grab a dominant market share which has, at times, been up above 70%.
Now, for the first time, that dominance is under threat.
There are now a plethora of Smart Speaker and Personal Voice Assistant devices on the market, with even more on the way, but it is the Google Home Pod that is emerging as the true pretender to the crown.
Whilst Alexa is in no way ready to relinquish its market share crown yet, a new report from Strategy Analytics has revealed that Google is catching up in terms of new device sales. The numbers for both are impressive, with the overall market pretty much doubling Year on Year.
During Q1 of 2018 Google shifted around 2.4 million Google Home Devices (they sold 0.3 million in Q1 2017) compared to Amazon’s 4 million. Sure, they are still way behind but, at the same time, are now the fastest growing “Smart Speaker” producer and are catching fast. Its further proof that although Amazon’s platform is a great toe-in-the-water for any brand or company wishing to experiment with Voice First technology, its competitors cant be ignored for long.
Part of the improvement in Google’s fortunes has been its effort to improve the service it offers. It still lags behind Amazon in terms of Skills/Actions (the varying terms for Voice-Apps) that it has on offer and is not as compatible with as many smart-devices in the home but there is massive improvement in both these areas. Plus, the success of “Android Auto” in new cars could help Google Assistant become the default voice assistant whilst we drive.
The REAL winning aspect of Google Home, however, is far simpler.
At HIVE Content we have always said that the key to making successful Voice-Apps is creating a frictionless, natural communication – and this is where Google Home really wins.
Amazon Alexa’s combination of wake-word and invocation-phrases can make for awkward interactions. Long, unnatural sentences are commonplace and its a problem. Amazon is working to fix this and their recent addition of “Follow Up” (a fix that enables you to ask Amazon follow up questions without repeating her wake word) is a big step in the right direction. Google, however, has a secret weapon… and its Google!
Not only does the Google Assistant boast the worlds most advanced and powerful search engine to interpret and return results but it also has the tech-giants very own natural language processing algorithm built into its architecture. This enables it to understand much more complex phrases and enables a more natural two-way conversation with its user.
This isn’t the only reason that Google is catching Amazon in the Smart Speaker race (and there are still plenty of areas in which Alexa remains No1) but its an interesting example of how a natural-conversation stream can improve a technology and, when designing Voice-Apps, lead to a much more user-friendly experience.
If you liked this blog then you might also be interested in: “Smart Speakers Must Learn To Talk Smart“.