Google and Amazon are going to make a big splash at the CES 2019.
They’ve had a big rivalry, and not just because they compete in businesses like cloud services and ads. Amazon and Google also sell rival smart speaker systems, including the Echo and Google Home, and rival streaming TV products, such as the Fire TV and Chromecast. Both companies are fighting to be the “operating system” of our homes, and it has played out publicly. There was a time, for example, when Amazon didn’t sell the Google Chromecast and when Google blocked YouTube on the Fire TV and Echo.
And, according to data from Canalys in November, smart speakers from both companies are nearly tied for market share. The Amazon Echo had a 31.9 percent market share in Q3 2018, while Google was just a hair behind with 29.8 percent. At CES, we’ll see how both companies are working to expand through partnerships.
In September, Amazon revealed new developer tools that allow its partners to include the Amazon Alexa voice assistant in pretty much anything they can dream up, including microwaves. Amazon has already confirmed it will use CES to show its vision for “Alexa Everywhere,” which means there are going to be a lot of new products from its partners. If it runs on electricity, there’s a good chance someone will try to stuff Alexa inside.
Google, which has a similar strategy with its Alexa competitor called Google Assistant, will also have a big presence. Google had a large, three-story experience center last year and, this year, says it will triple the size of its booth, which is smack in front of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Like Amazon, I think Google’s partners will reveal new products that run on Google Assistant. I’m not sure what else the company has in store, but it’s expanding its presence for a reason.
Don’t just expect to see these assistants in regular items like smart speakers. I think we’ll see them deployed in all manner of gadgets, from home appliances to televisions. But I also think they’ll pop up in strange places where voice assistants don’t even make sense. In other words — and I’m only half joking here — I would not be surprised to see someone launch a smart toothbrush with Amazon Alexa just for the heck of it.