Google and Amazon are silently stealing the limelight in Berlin, Germany as the annual IFA consumer electronics show gets underway. Being one of the largest consumer electronics shows in the world, trendy launches are expected from leading manufacturers such as Samsung and Lenovo.
Behind the scenes though, two tech giants Google and Amazon are the ones blowing their trumpets the loudest. In the venue, the only visible sign is a stand for Amazon Alexa in a tiny corner.
This is all interesting given that although the two giants may not be having a highly visible physical presence at the venue, they are actually omnipresent. In dozens of products being launched by different companies there was an announcement of either a partnershing with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. This manifested itself in a variety of devices from smart speakers to humanoids.
For example, Qihan, the Chinese technology company launched Sanbot Nano, a humanoid robot that uses voice technology from Alexa to communicate in both English and German. LG said that their partnership with Google will be stronger as they will integrate Google Assistant in every smart home device they release in 2017 enabling users to for example, query an LG washing machine on how much time is left on the cycle. Meanwhile, Sony released a smart speaker, quite similar to the Amazon Echo. The speaker, priced at $272, has embedded Google Assistant for voice functionality.
Google and Amazon are no doubt leading others in voice technology and their influence is growing as more devices come out with their voice assistants embedded, making them smarter by the sheer amounts of data available to them.
The use of artificial intelligence is bringing to reality the internet of things (IOT) where more devices are becoming inter-connected and the two tech titans are positioning themselves to be the central players driving this, by placing their technology in all these devices.
Google and Apple for example, have been able to dominate the smartphones market largely because their operating systems, Android and iOS respectively are in almost every handset. Google has therefore become a major mobile player without actually making the devices and is generating massive revenues from its app store.
With IOT becoming a reality, the need for all these devices to speak to each other will require an operating system that is compatible with all of them. Voice assistants may well fill that space and help control these devices. Amazon and Google will therefore have an upper hand in getting as many devices as possible in their realm through licensing of their voice technologies.
This is particularly important for Amazon, since it failed to make inroads in making its own devices it can now assert dominance in IOT by being the connector. The signs for this to happen are apparent as reported by RBC – revenues from Alexa could reach $10 billion by the year 2020.