Amazon's Alexa became the familiar name when it comes to intelligent assistants, but her continuing struggle with Google Assistant is becoming more difficult than expected. The products can support both Alexa and the Google Assistant, and since smart homes want to sell products to as many customers as possible, Alexa has achieved fewer and fewer exclusive wins.
Google used its massive presence at CES this week to send a message that also has bigger plans for the Assistant. Also in the exhibitions of other companies, Google has deployed employees dressed in white clothes and hats with the subject Assistant to talk to visitors through the features it could provide on third-party devices. He also launched a new interpreter mode on Google Assistant that is piloted in hotels in Las Vegas, New York and San Francisco.
In contrast, Amazon's presence seemed small. Amazon had two main cabins – one for Ring and another for Amazon Key – none of which seemed fully prepared. On both stands, live demonstrations of important Amazon features are not available. The new Door View webcam from Ring has not been activated or connected to the app, and a booth is over, Amazon's Key for Garage did not have much to show.
In an interview before the show, Amazon's device and service SVP Dave Limp said, "Customers do not care about an advertising campaign on the Las Vegas Strip." And this could be the reason why his presence has diminished. Alexa has already established itself in the smart home sector, while Google Assistant still seems the loser with something to prove (even if technically it is 10 times more devices, thanks to its presence on Android).
But Alexa's apparent advantage does not seem so strong when you look at the breadth of gadgets out there, because third-party device makers are not playing favorites. Devices like the U by Moen shower, the Lockly Secure Pro lock and the August locks, all compatible with Alexa and Google, while HomeKit appears on the horizon. Getting all these systems on one device required "the best part of last year" for Lockly, says CEO Lee Zheng. "Obviously Apple HomeKit will take a little more time."
Very few companies have taken a definitive position on intelligent assistants, and this means we will continue to see these all-encompassing devices, allowing different assistants to grow and prosper all at once. Alexa may have taken an early lead in this race, but it's still not close to being finished yet.