• Smart Home Technology
  • Software and Applications

Competition Heats Up in the Smart Home Space

Paige Leuschner
Sep 27, 2016

Computer and Tablet

The Google Home has been an idea looming in the distance since Sundar Pichai introduced the product at Google’s I/O conference earlier this year. Rumor has it that the product will finally make its official debut at an event in October 2016, where it is expected to be formally announced alongside a variety of other new hardware. The Google Home is a Wi-Fi connected smart home speaker that answers questions, plays music requests, and controls a user’s home Internet of Things devices by summoning Google Assistant, a component of Google’s Allo messaging app, through voice recognition.

Google Home is the company’s answer to Amazon’s Echo, which is reportedly already in the hands of some 3 million users. The Amazon Echo has done surprisingly well since its unveiling in 2014, which begs the question: How will Google do it better? For starters, the Google Home will reportedly be priced at $129, which is $40 less than Amazon’s Echo and a match to Amazon's lower-end Tap product. Google is also trying to one-up its competitor by offering customizable bases in different colors and materials to match the user’s style and décor. The company also hopes to be better at controlling other smart home devices, starting with Nest and Google Cast-enabled devices.

Competitors Abound

Amazon and Google are not the only companies battling for smart home device market share. Apple is moving forward with the development of its own smart home device based on the Siri voice assistant, transitioning the product from the R&D phase to prototyping. The release of the Amazon Echo was a surprise hit to Apple, which has been working on developing its product for more than 2 years. Apple is reportedly attempting to differentiate itself from Echo and Home with more advanced microphone and speaker technology. If and when Apple makes it to market with this product, it could potentially have an advantage due to the company’s investment in the Apple HomeKit. HomeKit already has a network of third-party connected smart home devices controllable through Siri, though the product has received less-than-favorable reviews and does not appear to have gained much traction in the market since its launch.

With big name players like Amazon, Google, and Apple vying to lead the smart home device market, the winner will be determined by factors such as interoperability with other devices, the user experience, and basic functionality (i.e., how well does the product actually respond to a user’s voice?). The company that wins will be the one that meets these criteria most effectively. Amazon is already ahead of the game, but Google and Apple both have the potential to succeed. Regardless, competition among these three giants should be a win for consumers who are likely to see better products at more competitive prices.