The retail giant has a threatening lead over its rival with the Echo and Alexa, as questions remain over how the search engine can turn voice technology into revenue
Amazon and Google always thrive in the fourth quarter as people get out their wallets for Christmas. Both companies – or in Google’s case, its parent group, Alphabet – are therefore expected to announce booming revenues in their fourth-quarter results over the next fortnight, with Alphabet going first on Thursday and Amazon the following week. But analysts are already looking beyond the simple question of how many cardboard boxes Amazon filled and how many searches Google answered. They’re wondering which company will win the battle to control your home.
That battle is being fought by two carafe-sized cylinders from the respective companies. One is Amazon’s Echo, with its voice-operated “personal assistant”, Alexa; the other is Google Home, which responds to the phrase “OK Google”. Both are internet-connected, home-based devices which can be command to do things: give the weather forecast; play music; read out news headlines; update shopping lists; and control “smart” devices in the home such as light bulbs or power points. In theory, if a device can be linked to it, the Echo can control or monitor it, and keep you informed. And simply by saying “Alexa, add sugar to the shopping list”, users can keep up to date on house supplies and even purchase them directly.