Google may have to play catchup with Amazon’s Alexa


CES 2017 came and went last month and it was no secret that we would be seeing new smart home products announced. However, what was a bit surprising was the number of products revealed that work with Amazon’s Alexa Voice Services.

Ford’s new infotainment center powered by Amazon’s Alexa

Considering that Google has kept Google Assistant tied to just a few products, this has opened the door for Amazon to take a commanding lead in the space. We saw Alexa integration in everything from refrigerators to our car infotainment centers, but also saw an announcement from Huawei regarding Alexa integration with the Mate 9.

That may have been the most surprising news of all, considering the Mate 9 will be the first smartphone that includes Amazon Alexa as an option, versus using Google’s own features. Also, since Google Assistant hasn’t been opened to any smartphones other than the Pixel and Pixel XL, this may be the jump start that Amazon needed.

Moving into the smartphone market is definitely something that could have been foreseen for Amazon, but it took the company time to perfect Alexa before making the move. Although the Mate 9 was recently released in the US, it’s not available through any US carriers, and can only be purchased at its full retail price of $599.

This limits the device from being in the hands of more users, however, it’s a foot in the door for a company trying to make a name for itself. Combined with the new partnership with Amazon, it’s likely that we may see a more conscientious approach to future Huawei smartphones released in the US.

There is also something important to remember. Since the Mate 9 will be the first smartphone with Alexa, there will likely be many bugs attached to the software update once it’s ready. Huawei and Amazon are swinging for the fences here, but the long fly ball could fall dead on the warning track, or it could be a huge swing-and-a-miss.

Some reports are stating that Google’s decision to give its own hardware the go ahead before any other devices could come back to bite them. However, it’s also important to note that Assistant is beginning to roll out to more third-party devices, as was evidenced by the announcement of the new NVIDIA Shield TV.

Now that Android Wear 2.0 is bringing Google Assistant to our wrists, that still leaves us wondering when we’ll see it on non-Pixel devices. However, we may not have to wait much longer as a rumor claims that the LG G6 will be the first to include Assistant after it’s announced at MWC 2017.

We’re hoping that this will open the door for more OEMs to build Assistant into their software. However, we know that Samsung won’t be one of those OEMs, as it continues to develop its own option for the Samsung Galaxy S8.

Naturally, Google wants to take baby steps to avoid a huge disaster or a bunch of bad press for lack of performance, but it may need to ramp things up a bit. If it doesn’t, the company may be playing catch up to Amazon for quite some time.

Regardless of new smartphones and new gimmicks that we will be seeing over the next few months, one of the most exciting things to keep an eye out for in 2017 is this competition right here. Amazon versus Google as the two battle it out for control over our homes and now our personal assistants.


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