Unless you live under a rock, you probably saw headlines this week about a war between Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. So what’s the takeaway?
Unless you live under a rock, you probably saw headlines this week about a war between Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. So what’s the takeaway?
Alexa in personal computers and AR glasses may be a bit surprising, but the CES 2018 theme seemed to be the same as last year: more cars and auto appliances with AI assistants, and more smart home devices for the kitchen, family room, and bedroom that respond to voice commands and talk to Alexa and Google Assistant. In addition to Alexa in everything from a car cockpit to a toilet, Samsung’s Bixby, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Assistant all showed up to vie for the world’s attention. Away from Las Vegas, reports of a Facebook video chat device named Portal that responds to voice commands also made news this week.
CES this year made clear the distinction in strategy between these tech giants that no longer treat their assistants as a novelty, but rather as a major selling point and part of their brand identity. While historic hardware makers like Samsung and Apple put their AI assistant primarily in their own devices, those with shorter hardware track records like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft encouraged companies like LG and Toyota to use their SDK to adopt their AI assistants.
What’s the best way to go?
Samsung will bring Bixby to Family Hub refrigerators and Smart TVs this year, and by now Apple has integrated Siri into virtually every Apple device, but both are still working on getting their smart speakers into consumers’ hands, and trail behind Alexa and Google Assistant in popular buzz. Brands with SDKs also seem to have the widest offering of third-party voice apps.
Amazon may be discussing major marketing deals with brands like Procter & Gamble, but it’s clear that tech giants aren’t just propagating assistants to ink advertising deals. Brands like Alexa are maturing into marketing vehicles unto themselves, a selling point not just for manufacturers like JBL and Sony, but also for Amazon’s devices and ultimate goals.
As tech giants lean harder on selling you their AI assistant, successful strategies rely on the product portfolio and long-term vision of each company. Siri may not have a sterling reputation, but Apple still probably shipped more than 100 million iOS devices last quarter. Amazon may have sold tens of millions of smart speakers this holiday season, but its ultimate goal may be, as Zuckerberg reportedly said of the coming Portal video chat device, a change in user behavior.
Facebook wants you to use Facebook for more video chats, and probably advertising. Amazon may lead the smart speaker market, now considered the most popular consumer electronic, but it wants users to shift their behavior to think of voice shopping as a normal thing to do.
We don’t yet know if integrating your AI assistant everywhere or a more conservative approach is the best way to go.
What we do know is that 2018 is going to be the year that Amazon and Google see real competition from the likes of Microsoft, Samsung, and Facebook. As the war to place AI assistants in your home, car, and workplace rages on, the way each of these companies defines a successful strategy may not depend on the number of devices sold, or integrations by other hardware makers, but rather if it helps them achieve its long-term goals.
Everything else is just noise.
For AI coverage, send news tips to Blair Hanley Frank and Khari Johnson, and guest post submissions to Cosette Jarrett — and be sure to bookmark our AI Channel .
Thanks for reading,
Khari Johnson
AI Staff Writer
P. S. Please enjoy this video of Eric Schmidt explaining why he thinks AI matters:
Comcast is bringing home automation to 15 million Xfinity customers
Comcast brings internet or cable TV services to 29 million customers, and now it wants to offer many of them home automation services, too. The media company knows that the internet of things, or making everyday objects smart and connected, is on a growth path. By adding these services, Comcast can become a more essential hub of the home and stave off threats from Internet video rivals. Comcast will provide additional home automation services […]
Read the full story
Google Assistant with visual interface arrives on Sony, LG, and JBL touchscreen devices
Google Assistant with a visual interface is coming to touchscreen devices from JBL, Lenovo, LG, and Sony. The devices will bring visual elements like cards and carousels into the Google Assistant experience and let users make video phone calls with Google Duo and watch YouTube videos, a feature Google removed from Amazon devices like the Echo Show multiple times […]
Read the full story
HP Pavilion Wave is the first PC with Alexa built in
Amazon’s Alexa will soon be available in the HP Pavilion Wave to do things like play music, control smart home devices, access more than 25,000 Alexa skills, and complete a number of other tasks. Since the PC runs on Windows 10, the Pavilion Wave will be able to speak with Microsoft’s AI assistant Cortana. Acer, Asus, and Lenovo are also reportedly planning to bring Alexa to a series of Windows 10 laptops […]
Read the full story
Facebook reportedly plans to launch Portal video chat device for $499 in May
Facebook reportedly plans to release a video chat device named Portal priced at $499. The device, sources familiar with the matter told news website Cheddar, will be released at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, set to take place May 1-2 in San Jose, California, and it will be available for purchase in late 2018. The price is not yet final, and could be decreased to compete […]
Read the full story
Baidu COO says China’s government will help the country dominate AI
When Baidu COO Qi Lu took the stage at his company’s first CES press conference yesterday, he had a clear message for the audience in Las Vegas: China is coming to dominate the AI market around the world. In his view, the country’s population, regulatory environment, and wealth of data means that China is poised to lead the world in AI innovation. “What will give an edge to China is a much larger population […]
Read the full story
Intuition Robotics nabs Samsung as investor, launches U. S. beta trial of ElliQ companion robot
One year after launching out of stealth, Israeli robotics startup Intuition Robotics has announced a fresh tranche of funding and the launch of a beta program that will introduce its ElliQ robot to homes across California and Florida. Founded in 2015, Intuition Robotics is creating what it calls “social companion technology” for the elderly. Its first product, ElliQ is a robotic companion that […]
Read the full story
Japanese scientists just used AI to read minds and it’s amazing
Imagine a reality where computers can visualize what you are thinking.

Continue reading...