We’ve been seeing a lot of interesting experimentation at Amazon over the last few months. Voice was a big bet Amazon made launching the first Alexa-powered device in November 2014. Since then it has come out with two additional smaller form factors. With the number of skills exponentially increasing, the total is now over 13,000 with more than 4,000 of these skills less than three months old. Needless to say, Amazon has done very well on this device. Just this week new research from eMarketer came out saying Amazon will dominate the voice-enabled speaker market this year; with growth of 130% and a market share of 70%, there is no wonder Amazon is experimenting. Just this year alone it has launched the Look (camera integration) and the Show (screen integration) devices. Amazon this week launched its first partner-built TV with Alexa. It happens to be from Element but includes all of the Alexa and Fire TV goodness. Don’t expect it to stop here, with Amazon just getting into voice and video.
Amazon and Microsoft learned the difficulty of competing on the mobile side with the failure of the Amazon Fire Phone and the Windows Phone. Microsoft has done very well with its apps on Android and iOS. Amazon will likely target mobile via apps instead of dedicated mobile devices. This formula is working and will emerge as a pattern.
Speaking of Microsoft, it is expected to announce a speaker for Cortana any day. Personally, I found Alexa to be inaccurate, so I’m using Google Home, which accounts for about 28% of the market today based on the eMarketer research.
So now you may be asking: What is next for these giants beyond the home speaker fad?
My perspective is that the differentiation will begin to take hold between these tech giants; this means the melding of multiple paradigms together. Amazon may wish to use its home speaker advantage to approach mobile, or better expand the usage of voice control throughout its logistics and selling supply chain which is growing ever more impressive.
Microsoft may leverage its augmented reality technology, HoloLens, which is an area Microsoft is ahead of the pack. This technology could be used to bolster the use of Cortana (which is a laggard) and the Azure cloud services as they compete with Amazon Web Services. Microsoft is targeting those who create, with the last two major Windows updates, and this seems to be a trend which is accelerating as we preview the fall creators update. One of the major features is tying the desktop with the mobile device and creating a graph service across desktop and mobile.
With Google I/O starting this week, as expected Google has increased and stressed its lead in machine learning which has become the differentiator. Machine learning is the technology which drives assistant and Google Home. We’ll see this come to iOS as Google and Microsoft have both been very open in supporting Apple’s devices. Finally, Google will begin to apply its AI and machine learning to other mediums and use cases, both for media itself and to analyze the world around its users.
Back to Amazon, we’ll likely see them adopt the same type of Trojan horse approach Google is doing on iOS to enable them to capture a mobile footprint. Meanwhile, its Alexa-enabled technologies will continue to proliferate.
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