Categories: AppsEditorialGoogle AssistantUpcoming Devices

Google Assistant And Third Party Speakers: No, They’re Not Competiton


Last week at IFA Berlin, a number of big players in the tech arena announced the coming of third-party home speakers with the Google Assistant baked right in. Mobvoi, Anker and Panasonic led the charge and now, Sony and Onkyo have followed suit with their own renditions of Assistant-enabled products.

As you can imagine, many have already begun the “head-to-head” comparisons to Google’s already popular Home smart-speaker.

Don’t get me wrong. I get it. We all want to know which is better and frankly, creating a dramatic battle of the devices makes for catchy headlines.

They’re missing the point.

As Robby mentioned, we will definitely be getting our hands on some of these to see how they perform because we’re both musicians and sound quality is crucial around our office. At the end of the day, which one is the best speaker for you will boil down to “how important is sound quality” and “how much do I want to spend?”

Google could care less.

Google’s goal (Sundar was very forward about this) is to get the Assistant into as many products across as many platforms as they can. That’s exactly what they’re doing.

Do they want to sell Google Home speakers? Sure they do. I can imagine the profit margin is fairly decent on the little smart-assistant and every one that leaves shelves is another opportunity for Google to connect with the general public.

However, third-party, Assistant-toting speakers aren’t competition for Google Home. If you go with #madebygoogle or you decide the $355 JBL is more up your alley, Google still gets what Google wants.

The Assistant, everywhere.

The Google Assistant connects users on a deeper, more brand-centric level than ever. Connecting smart-home product from light bulbs to thermostats and even your appliances in the very near future.

What does this mean for Google? It means data. It means demographics and analytics that better help the search giant to create targeted, user-specific advertising which is the financial backbone of the company.

Don’t let that be a deterrent for using smart-home and connected products because it also means advances in development. Data mining based on individual users is what helps propel the development of new and better software, hardware and services.

Besides, you ultimately have control over the data you share. If the Assistant, Alexa or SIRI aren’t welcome in your home, there are a plethora of BlueTooth devices that can fill your needs.

Widening Platform

In July, Google announced that the Assistant was available on over 100 million devices. That’s not to say it was being actively used on that many and it’s not clear if that was just a reference to Android devices or Google Home as well.

Either way, the expansion of the Assistant to third-party devices like speaker and yes, even Chromebooks means the potential for exponential growth for Google’s smart-helper as consumers begin an inherent embrace of brands they may already have an affinity for like Sony or LG.

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The manufacturers understand the value as well.

Even Harmon Kardon owner Samsung, with their own Bixby assistant, chose to launch their first smart-speaker with Google’s platform as opposed to their own. Google is in the data business and Samsung knows this as well as anyone. Putting the Google Assistant in their JBL Link speaker series is a no-brainer when you look at the capabilities compared to Bixby.

Here’s the moral of the story. Google is making more products and we love that. If the day comes that my office and my home can be, for the majority, #madebygoogle, I’m in. But, we’re kind of the exception around here. We’re fanboys and we admit it.

Consumers want what consumers want. Brand loyalty runs deep and bigger and better is the American way. Google knows this. You know this. Google is placing a big wager on that fact and taking aim at a much, much bigger goal than selling you their hardware.

Thoughts? Are you ready for the Google-connected home? Drop your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe and get the latest from Chrome Unboxed.

Gabriel Brangers

Lover of all things coffee. Foodie for life. Passionate drummer, hobby guitar player, Web designer and proud Army Veteran. I have come to drink coffee and tell the world of all things Chrome. "Whatever you do, Carpe the heck out of that Diem" - Roman poet, Horace. Slightly paraphrased.

View Comments

  • The whole family now uses Google assistant daily, the kids love it!
    Want to see something from Netflix? Just ask and it turns on the TV and start streaming, need something translated on the fly? No problem.
    Awesome in the kitchen to add stuff to shopping list, setting timers and double checking temperatures and so much more.
    Just wish Google home had an equalizer but I guess the new assistants from oems will offer improved sound but at a cost.

  • Does it really matter either way? We get great products. People use this product so the product remains supported and improved. Google keeps making these products. Win win.

  • "What does...[the spread of Google Assistant to all manner of home appliances]...mean for Google? It means data."

    Well, that statement is no doubt true but Google can't know beforehand whether what it gains in terms of data will be bankable. I think there is a bit of Andy Grove thinking that lies behind many of Google's actions: "Only the paranoid survive." In short, a company flourishes by constantly experimenting with changing things and altering its form and operations. Also, a successful tech company will not only want to be "in the race" to where technological changes are taking us but will exert itself constantly to win the race. Google, I believe, is racing to win a number of high stakes races and it may indeed become the dominant provider of cloud services and AI functions support to the home.

    I don't want to suggest that this won't be a good business in commercial terms but the margins of a business of this sort will, in large part, be determined by the regulation regime. And, light regulation is not obviously the better course in this case. If a 'natural monopoly' should arise in this situation, it is important that regulatory measures prevent such a monopoly from becoming predatory. If legislators reconfirm rather than undermining the sound net neutrality tenets and strengthen up the regulatory regime to enforce utility-like controls on cloud operators, companies like Google might end up having to live on relatively narrow margins for their monopoly privileges. And, a regulatory regime that eliminates monopolistic profiteering would be a great boon to consumers. So, while Google may do well as a business from the services it provides to the home there is still an element of leaping into the unknown in this - only the paranoid survive! Google, I am sure, would take the time to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of a great number of strategic directions of development, but its strong desire to be at the head of the pack in the home may not fundamentally turn on a confident estimation of the commercial value of the data they would thus acquire. The thinking, I am guessing, would go more like this: It is better that Google owns this new and unexplored terrain, that has the potential to become an important part of the wider Google cultivated ecosystem, than some other company. But, that is more like a wager than a strictly rational calculation. The wager will probably pay off, viz. that data acquired will probably be worth the investment - in new data centre capacity, in financial allocations to new technologies to improve data processing and analysis and in the provision of free consumer apps - and it will likely not lose its value overnight due to the effects of signing an overly tight regulatory framework into law. But, Google has made its play for the trust of the domestic user of cloud based services and functions without the play being a sure thing as a business proposition.

    Please, don't misunderstand my intent. I admire Google partly out of respect for their willingness to wager, after having narrowed but not eliminated the uncertainties, on bringing forth quickly devices and services for particular communities (i.e. in this case musicians and appreciators of music) that frequently represent radical departures from and very attractive alternatives to existing products that have traditionally served the technical and practical needs of such communities. Google bets on things it thinks people need that will offer some improvement in terms of user experience. I admire that. It is good to have a company that first and foremost bets on its ability to delight users of its products. Too many companies want to score a pot of gold without having properly paid their dues to the communities whose patronage they covet.

  • Sitting window whether these new speakers will be supporting Google cast? I'm still in the process of establishing a multi- house audio network, and for me this is the most important question.

  • "Even Harmon Kardon owner Samsung, with their own Bixby assistant, chose to launch their first smart-speaker with Google’s platform as opposed to their own."

    So I take it you, Gabriel Brangers, Web designer, have never heard of the Invoke with Cortana?

    • Yes, I know what Invoke is. Yes, it was released under the umbrella of Samsung's ownership. However, it was developed and purposed months if not a year prior to the Samsung takeover. I see your point but I think you missed mine. Also, not sure what web design has to do with the discussion. Not to mention, Cortana?

      • It isn't very clear that you meant "prior to the takeover," so I missed your point, but from re-reading, I see what you meant. I mentioned that you're a web designer to stress your (un)qualifications, as pointed out by your not clearly defined reference.

        • I don't think a person who says this like "(un) qualifications" is qualified to criticize a person's qualifications

          • Ignorance is rampant in your statements!!! Does that make any sense to you or are you UNqualified to determine the meaning in another persons statement/s?

          • You have a funny way of saying unqualification that's all. First you put the un in parentheses, then you capitalized it. You're just all over the place man. ;)

            Keep calling me ignorant tho it's hilarious. It's like Trump calling someone a liar.

            "I mentioned that you're a web designer to stress your (un)qualifications, as pointed out by your not clearly defined reference."

            Talk about not making any sense and being unqualified to understand another's statement. How on Earth does being a web designer make a person unqualified for anything else? What's the connection there? The only thing being a web designer makes you unqualified for is being an (un)web designer. It wasn't just incorrect it literally makes no sense, a person can be a web designer and also be qualified for literally anything else. Pointing out one skill a person has does not "stress their unqualification".

            You could have just said "what about invoke?" instead of trying to imply a person is unqualified based on some random, arbitrary observation about one of his skills.

            But then you wouldn't be a troll I guess. And trolls gotta troll.

          • "It's like Trump calling someone a liar." You had to throw that ignorant, yep, ignorant, Liberal comment. All I had to read. Bye.

          • Haha. This gets better and better. You used ignorant twice to call a stranger you've never met and know nothing about a liberal, who's very much not a liberal.

            This is my favorite conversation ever.

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