Google, Amazon, and Apple are contending in possibly one of the most significant technology wars to date. And the stakes are high. The digital assistant – application programs that understand natural language voice commands and complete tasks – is the glue that brings together computing, services and more across disparate operating systems. They can make our personal and professional lives easier, and help streamline digital services and devices. Hence the digital assistant is both strategic and important for the aforementioned technology giants.
The big question, of course, is ‘which company’s digital assistant will dominate in the years to come?’ To answer this, we need to delve a little deeper into trends, capabilities, and other pros and cons of digital assistant services.
The digital assistant is the glue that brings together computing, services and more across disparate operating systems. Click To Tweet
- Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana is available on Windows 10 devices and various mobile operating systems but is notably absent in the smart speaker market.
- Apple’s HomePod smart speaker will launch in the coming days. As such, there is limited data to compare.
- The brains of the digital assistant have a different name to the smart speaker itself (see below).
ASSISTANT NAME (Google)
SMART SPEAKER NAME
ASSISTANT NAME (Amazon)
SMART SPEAKER NAME
ASSISTANT NAME (Apple)
SMART SPEAKER NAME
Current Market Share
Note – These charts do not include the Apple HomePod as it hadn’t launched at the time of publishing.
This statistic displays the market share of virtual/digital assistants in 2017, with a forecast for 2020, by company/product. Google Assistant had a share of about 25 percent in the intelligent digital assistant market in 2017. That share is forecasted to increase to 43 percent in three years time, due to the expansion of Google Assistant to lower price tiers.
This statistic displays the comparison between Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant in terms of their ability to answer questions in different categories. According to a survey done in 2017, Google Assistant outperformed Amazon Alexa on all categories by large margins.
Aside from accuracy, reliability, and ease of use, perhaps the most critical component for digital assistants is the ability to intelligently integrate with third-party services (those outside its own native ecosystem).
Actions on Google allows third-party developers to easily integrate their apps and services with the brains of Google Assistant. Skills is the Amazon equivalent. It’ll be interesting to see what Apple offers for HomePod as Apple tends to be quite protective, and limits how much developers can control its hardware and software.
Pricing matters. Google knows this, as does Amazon, but the cost of Apple’s HomePod is obscene at $500 (especially considering how late it is to market, and also how limited it is likely to be). But as we know all too well, Apple has a legion of loyal fans, many of whom are prepared to pay premium prices no matter what. Google and Amazon, on the other hand, are more willing to sacrifice their margins if it means attracting more users.
Google owns search, which means (to a degree) it controls the Internet. It also has an extensive portfolio of online services that are used by billions of people every day – Gmail, Calendar, Maps, Photos, YouTube, Drive, and plenty more. The company has access to huge amounts of data, which it uses to make decisions and guide the direction of the business. Google also owns the Android OS, giving it a massive advantage in the mobile space.
So in summary, Google has a lot of leverage in the digital assistant market – perhaps the most out of all the players.
Amazon is the leader in e-commerce, generating billions of dollars from online shoppers around the world. It also dominates the eBook market with its Kindle bookstore. In addition, Amazon is the king of cloud and computing services with AWS (Amazon Web Services). The company is making headway into digital streaming and entertainment as well.
Watch this hilarious Alexa Super Bowl commercial.
Apple is a behemoth in both hardware and software, and its users are (mostly) very loyal to the brand (regardless of pricing). Its hardline stance on maintaining a somewhat closed ecosystem provides the illusion that its products are more secure than its competitors, which greatly appeals to the business market. Apple’s products, I’m told, also work together seamlessly, providing the kind of user experience that consumers crave.Google has a lot of leverage in the digital assistant market - perhaps the most out of all the players. Click To Tweet
Based on the above information (and admittedly some bias), I believe that Google will come out on top in the digital assistant race. Why? Because it has so many bases covered. It has the greatest reach and is leading the AI charge by miles. Amazon and Apple definitely have their own strengths, but I don’t believe – at least at this point – that they’re enough to put them in the lead.
Do you agree? Please share your comments.
Content marketer, blogger, author and tech geek.