Google positioned to win Tech 3.0

Amazon might be leading out of the gate, but Google will lead the field through the first turn of the voice interface race

M.G. Siegler, the same goes for Google Assistant in Google Home: just because Siri already did it, then Alexa did it, doesn’t mean Google Home won’t win (and I’m a satisfied, early adopter of Echo)…

The race is for the next epoch, “no UI” (in this case “the voice interface”), which is still wide-open, and Amazon Echo isn’t pervasive enough to be defensible, for the following reasons…

  1. Easily substitutable: Alexa’s value propositions are too weak for winner-take-all (great voice recognition, increasing 3rd party app “Skills,” and Amazon shopping integration)
  2. Few proprietary apps: misses the opportunity to leverage the power of the “default” choice toward inextricable customer loyalty (Google has a comprehensive app suite)
  3. Not ubiquitous: no cross-device, omni-channel presence (e.g. Google Assistant will be web/mobile/cars/smarthome/etc, whereas Alexa sits static in your home somewhere)
  4. Not full-stack: the sensors to control your TV or lightbulbs with Alexa are sold by 3rd parties — although this can change as Amazon scales (Apple controls the entire supply chain for its devices, including data)

Ironically, for the next generation, Google Assistant is to Amazon Alexa what iOS was to Android in mobile. Similarly, Google Assistant : Siri :: iPhone : Blackberry.

Google’s announcements at its I/O Conference last week came at a crucial time — although the new product rollouts aren’t ready quite yet. Their timing is important because Google has lost its monopoly on data. Yet, even while it’s data empire is effectively being modularized by competitors, those competitors (Apple/Facebook/Amazon) are harvesting incomplete datasets — arguably fewer datapoints combine than Google’s aggregate due to the vast Google ecosystem.

Google knows almost everything about us, not just our social/interest graph (Facebook), our purchasing habits (Amazon), or our app usage (Apple) in silos, but all of those things combine (and more). Google Search, Calendar, Gmail, Photos, Pay, Chrome, News, Maps, YouTube, Drive, Chromecast, Android, Home, on and on… that’s a powerful, best-in-class mix of products and data that Google Assistant can draw upon. Nobody else is even close.

Google is positioned to win the next era of tech, with Facebook a close second. Apple has the most ground to make up. (Given Google’s head start, competitors might have to take a page out of Android’s playbook and open source/JV to rival Google by commoditizing its unique assets.) We’ll see who can execute and who comes out of nowhere to take the crown.

P.S. I’d watch-out for a social network burgeoning within Google again, this time sprouting (more naturally) from Google Photos.

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