Having already introduced the Indian versions of its voice assistants, Google Home and Google Home Mini, global search giant Google is now directly competing with Amazon Echo to gain a stronghold of the thriving smart speaker market.
As per several industry sources, the ad spendings of both companies, on their respective virtual personal assistant (VPA) products, are expected to touch $9.1 Mn (INR 60 Cr) in the next one year.
Shedding light on the matter, Navin Khemka, Managing Partner of Wavemaker India told Livemint, “Both Google and Amazon have deep pockets. They will spend disproportionately to create the voice assistant category, which is still nascent in India. Its early adopters will be young users who already use voice assistants on phones. They are more likely to buy the speakers that will be adopted by others in a household.”
The development comes at a time when Google has already started running a ‘Make Google Do It’ ad campaign. The campaign, which is targeting millennials, is designed to encourage the use of voice assistants on Android phones, particularly for navigation, playing audio and texting.
Sharing its ad strategy, a spokesperson for the tech company stated, “We have been seeing an increase in the number of people using Google Assistant on phones. Smart speakers represent a new computing paradigm, one that is very nascent. We believe there is definite user interest to interact more seamlessly and conveniently with technology, where voice is a key part of the new experience.”
Google And Its Bet On Voice Assistants
Recently, in the second week of April, Google announced the launch of Google Home and Google Home Mini in the Indian market. Google Home and Home Mini have been introduced at the price of $153.9 (INR 9,999) and $76.9 (INR 4,999), respectively on Flipkart and over 750 retail stores including Reliance Digital, Croma and Vijay Sales, among others.
As per its blog post, the company has programmed the smart speakers with an Indian accent to cater to the customers in this country. The products are equipped with two microphones to enable accurate far-field voice recognition.
Speaking on the launch, Rishi Chandra, VP, Product Management, Google Home, shared, “With a simple “Ok, Google” or “Hey Google”, you can get answers, turn up the music, manage everyday tasks or even control smart devices around your home. Google Home understands Indian accents, and will respond to you with uniquely Indian contexts.”
Amazon Echo Vs Google Home: The War Is In The Smart Speaker Segment
In the voice-based assistance space, Google will be competing with global ecommerce giant Amazon which has introduced Amazon Alexa, its voice-controlled speakers designed entirely around the speaker’s voice.
Alexa runs on cloud and will answer questions, play music, turn the lights on and off, give sports scores, check the weather, calls friends and family and more. Recently, in February 2018, Amazon announced the commercial availability of Echo Dot, Echo, and Echo Plus in India. Currently, the Echo devices can be purchased from over 350 retail outlets such as Croma, Reliance, Vijay Sales, Crossword and more in 20 cities across India.
Echo devices are voice-controlled speakers designed entirely around the speaker’s voice. The company claims that they are hands-free and fast. Alexa is the brain behind Echo devices.
As part of its ad strategy, Amazon is currently promoting Echo devices at the Indian Premier League (IPL). On the matter, Ravi Desai, Director of Mass and Brand Marketing, Amazon India said, “The team’s focus was to highlight Echo as a family device with varied use cases relevant to each and every member of the family. Our target groups for Echo devices are families that are technology-friendly and willing to spend for convenience.”
Apart from that, the company is also working to fine tune Alexa products for the Indian customer. “We have expanded her natural language understanding to fully comprehend context and intent, even if the sentences include Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam or Punjabi proper nouns. You can ask Alexa to add ‘atta’ to your shopping list,” added Desai.
As voice technology becomes the new revolution, companies are increasingly recognising the industry potential and diving their way into voice tech. For instance, we have luxury phone maker Apple’s in-built voice-based assistant Siri, which has been a major attraction for its users.
With Google and Amazon vowing to spend up to $9.1 Mn on VPA advertising in the next 12 months, who emerges as the winner will be interesting to see.