Google takes on the Amazon Echo head on with Google Home

Google Home and Amazon Echo are both products that can be used for entertainment, looking up information, or planning schedules.

Google Home was announced at the Google I/O earlier this year, and started being available for pre-order yesterday. The specifics of the device came to light, and it seems to match Amazon Home, powered by Alexa, feature by feature. Google Home uses Google Assistant as the intelligent agent, first available in the Allo app.

Google Home and Amazon Echo are both products that essentially provide the same service. The speakers can be used for entertainment, looking up information, or planning schedules. The devices connect to music services such as Spotify or TuneIn. They can be used to control and monitor SmartHome IoT platforms such as Samsung SmartThings. Both have multiple microphones with far field voice recognition that allows for processing of natural language commands even when the speakers are playing back music. A decision between the two would boil down to the specific services one is subscribed to, the particular home automation kits used in a Smart Home, and what other devices are already owned by a user.

The Echo Dot

The Echo Dot

Both Google and Amazon want to go beyond just one device in the living room. Google Home will automatically sync up playback of songs across multiple devices in a single home. Amazon has announced a smaller, more discreet version of the Echo, known as the Echo Dot for spaces more personal and intimate than the living room. Customisation is one edge that Google has here, as it offers a number of bases for Google Home to match with the surroundings. Allowing for personalisation of the hardware is a good idea as against a single design for everyone, especially for a living room product. It is possible to slap on skins to the Echo, but it is great to have personalisation options from the manufacturer.

Colour options

Google Home has bases that can be swapped for matching with your interior design.

Both Amazon and Google have opened up their assistants to third party products and services. Amazon has a lead here because it has been around for longer. However, going forward Google does have an advantage. Those who use the Echo will continue to use Google products and services, an example being Google Calendar. However, those using Google Home may not use Amazon products and services as frequently, or at all. Around the world, consumers on the Internet are likely to already have a history of using Google products and services, a comfort level that may not exist with Amazon. Google Home is also designed to work with other Google hardware, such as the Wi-Fi routers, Chromecast and smartphones.

Google Home is priced competitively with the Amazon Echo. Google Home is almost $50 less than the Amazon Echo, at a price of pre-order price of $129 (roughly Rs 8,588), whereas the Amazon Echo is available for $180 (roughly Rs 11,982). The Amazon Echo is actually available for Rs 18,990 on eBay here.

How many of these services supported by Echo do you use?

How many of these services supported by Echo do you use?

For Indians, another advantage is that Google is more likely to introduce tie-ups with local partners. Amazon works well only in the United States, and is less functional in the European market. The home automation and multimedia services are less likely to have local Indian companies. The utility and value of such a device might be reduced in emerging economies. However, Google Assistant being able to process Hindi or English, shows that, going forward, Google will have an edge in the Indian market.

The sector is expected to grow rapidly, and competition is bound to heat up. Wireless speakers powered by artificial intelligence assistants is expected to be a $2.1 Billion Industry by 2020, according to a report by Gartner.

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