Google made a fundamental mistake by launching Google Home two years after Amazon Echo, says Ben Thompson of Stratechery. Amazon's Echo and its growing lineup of first-party hardware, including the Tap and Dot, are less significant to the company's future than Alexa itself, the voice-enabled operating system that seems to be growing in reach and intelligence more quickly than any other.
Thompson says that Alexa capitalized on the home automation trend at the perfect time, and because Alexa is not linked to any one piece of hardware, it can exist in as many rooms as a family can afford, without taking much away from the unassailable relationships we have with smartphones today.
That simplicity has allowed vendors from Sonos to LG to seamlessly integrate Alexa into their existing lineups.
That's the beauty of Alexa: it doesn't cost the vendors anything (or at least, very little) to integrate, and because all that's needed is a microphone, a speaker and a connection to the internet — Amazon itself does all the hard work in the cloud backend — it can scale beautifully. And as we've seen with products like the Echo Dot, Alexa is better the more places it's in.
Google Home is arguably a better product than the Echo, that's no doubt: it's sleeker, cheaper, and even in its infancy, far more intelligent. But Thompson argues that Google still relies too heavily on needing a phone in-hand, and that its primary business model, search advertising, does not have the revenue potential in a voice-first product. Amazon, on the other hand, can afford to give Alexa away for next to nothing because it fosters the single-action purchase intent that fuels the company's core ecommerce business. Thompson explains:
So what do you think? Is he right? Wrong? Discuss it in the comments below!
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Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central.