Don’t miss Slate’s Will Oremus on the subject, which touches on catch-ups, competitive dynamics, Google, Apple, and most importantly, China.
Here’s the piece, and here’s the standout excerpt: Google in particular has been catching up in a hurry. That could be partly because its Assistant is “smarter” than Alexa, by some metrics. But the Echo is more capable in other respects, and it continues to be a top-rated device in the category.
Analysts say the secrets to Google’s success lie elsewhere. A big-budget marketing blitz, an aggressive push to partner with retailers and makers of smart home gadgets, and the company’s reputation for answering search questions got it off to a good start. It didn’t hurt that the company was also pushing the Google Assistant — its equivalent of Alexa — onto hundreds of millions of Android devices. Perhaps most importantly, Google has experience, partners, and language capabilities in overseas markets where Amazon is less established.
Oh, and perhaps you’ve heard that brick-and-mortar retailers aren’t big Amazon fans. “Retailers are more open to the idea of arranging Google’s smart speakers, because Google isn’t seen as such a direct competitor,” said Vincent Thielke, research analyst for Canalys.
In the long run, though, it isn’t just Silicon Valley that threatens Amazon’s smart speaker lead. It’s China.
I guess the Whole Foods channel wasn’t enough.