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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2521

The Dawn of Smartspeakers: Amazon Echo and Google Home Rise above the Horizon

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London...

As the mobile users are slowly getting bored with the latest models of smartphones with no game-changer in the offing, the void appears to be attracting a new form of an old gadget – smartspeakers.

They are still speakers, indeed; because, voice could be heard from them. They are pretty smart, because they have been programmed to perform a multitude of tasks at the prompt of a simple voice command.

It was Amazon, which launched its first smartspeaker, Amazon Echo, in 2014. In a matter of three years, it became the undisputed king in the realm of smartspeakers, up until Google came up with its own range of Google Home, little later.

Amazon Echo, the elegant, tall smartspeaker is a beautiful gadget to have in the living room or kitchen, with a price tag of just over $100.00. With voice commands, while addressing the virtual assistant, by name, Alexa, we can ask her to can turn lights on, play music, answer questions, update traffic information, read instructions of a recipe, run general knowledge quizzes, set alarm clock, play audio books for you to listen to, place orders on Amazon accounts, order books and do many more.

The real beauty of Amazon Echo paradigm stems from company’s ambition to diversify the platform in such a way that software developer can create useful features in the form of skill sets and then contribute it to Alexa platform.

Amazon has made the process really streamlined: if you are an experienced programmer, you can simply register with an Amazon developer account, develop the skill and ask for the registration of the product, something that I started last year; and it was really fun, indeed.

If you do not own an Amzon Echo right now, you can use the following simulator to see what Alexa can offer you, provided that you have an Amazon account and it can be accessed by the device that you read this article on.

Thanks to this approach, three has been an explosive growth in the Amazon Alexa skill sets on many fronts. In proportion to the availability of new skill sets, the sales of Amazon Echo have rocketed that in turn prompted Amazon to come up with a mini version last year, Amazon Echo Dot, to reach a wider audience.

As Amzaon Echo had been cruising the unchartered waters of smartspeakers without any challenge or hindrance, Google came up with its own Google Home range that managed to somewhat narrow down the unassailable lead that the former used to enjoy.

With the entry of the two tech giants with their own corresponding products – and matching cloud services – they have collectively become synonymous with the new phenomenon.

As a result, it has become really hard for those who just want to mimic them to having a foothold in the smartspeaker landscape. Both Apple and Microsoft, much to their dismay, perhaps, have found out that breaking ice in this particular market is not that easy, despite both companies having their own virtual assistants – Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortona.

As far as Apple is concerned, the company keeps postponing the release of its smartspearker, HomePod, citing ‘ it needs a bit more time’; Microsoft, on the other hand, partnered with Samsung for a device, but the luck didn’t last long.

Since both companies are well-known for attaching heavy price tags to their products, the possibility of them entering this particular market anytime soon is really remote.

In this context, both Google and Amazon are going to carve out big chunks of space in the realm of smartphones for collective dominance in the foreseeable future, buoyed by the vast customer data that both posses at their disposal.

- Asian Tribune -

The Dawn of Smartspeakers: Amazon Echo and Google Home Rise above the Horizon
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