Google is at CES this year in a big way. One of the announcements is an Echo Show competitor.
It seems like instead of innovating in the category Google is matching Amazon’s playbook 1:1…even if some of those plays have mixed reception. Google isn’t yet announcing a home grown project, but rather a number of “smart displays” that will be launching by companies such as LG, Sony, Lenovo, and JBL. The video above gives the main jist of what you’d expect. It’s basically an Echo Show that can play youtube.
The Google assistant experience works pretty well on the phone (at least on my Pixel 2 XL) and these “Smart Displays” seem to be a phone, that’s permanently located in one spot. I can’t decide how well this will works. It feels like taking one function of a multi-use mobile device and making a single use product. It seems like re-inventing the landline phone. The home and echo products feel legitimately useful to me. They are non-intrusive (apart from the always listening) and serve as the interface for a modern smart home. I do not think things like Hue Bulbs would be as successful if it weren’t for the Amazon Echo.
Devices like the Echo Show seem like the logical next step. Add video calling, show text for recipes, etc. Right now these home assistance with screens seem too “niche”. I imagine Google is announcing Smart Displays mostly because it is an easy extension of what is already built. The backend already exists, its similar to a phone and the hardware and marketing will be done by the device manufacturers. A low risk bet on a form factor that may or may not move forward. The end game of this category is having Jarvis or Hal available where ever we are, which is why Google is getting assistant on every device category (good or bad). Google everywhere. On you Phone, your TV, in your headphones, in your car, and in your home.