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Apple, Amazon and Google at war!

Three tech giants that have never tasted failure will have a savage battle soon that only one can win, says Rajiv Makhni

brunch Updated: Jun 17, 2017 22:31 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
Apple HomePod,Google Home,Amazon Echo
With products like Apple HomePod, Amazon Echo and Google Home, the fight for supremacy is getting strong

If you are a war junkie, a battle hound, a combat aficionado, then you’ve just hit bullseye. A battle is about to commence that is going to be savage, and will take no prisoners. A battle between three of the world’s biggest and most successful companies that have almost never tasted failure. This time, only one can win. Let’s meet the contenders as well as the all-new category in which the bloodshed must commence.

Apple

The all-time king of the product and innovation world, the company that makes even mediocre products look like god’s gift to mankind, needs a hit in this category as some of its product lines are starting to look old.

Google

The search emperor, the company that destroys the competition wherever its gaze turns, hasn’t had too much success in the product field, but is getting serious about it.

Amazon

The retail lord of the world is carefully but constantly killing the competition, innovating and executing with the precision of an assassin, and is slowly building up an excellent line of products that are super successful.

The Apple HomePod is being positioned as a serious audiophile audio speaker first and then a digital assistant.

The product

Those are the contenders. Now, on to the product category. It’s the all- new Sound and Seek category. Speakers with built-in digital assistant intelligence. A product that has an array of microphones as well as the smarts to be able to respond, react, and obey all voice commands. They can play music, read an audio book, add a calendar item, set up a shopping list, control your home automation and lighting, and do it all while sitting in your room. Hey Google, Alexa and Siri are on standby to unleash the biggest war the technology industry has seen in a long time.

Amazon Echo Look has a camera that can take selfies on command

The preamble

Amazon, with its Echo line up, started this category and is currently the leader. Google, with its Google Home product line followed, and Apple has just announced its new headline maker HomePod. Market estimates rate this category as a rival of the phone industry. Eventually we all will have one or more of these. In the speaker-encased digital assistant market, eventually only one will dominate. Here’s how these companies are differentiating themselves.

Echo

Amazon has played its Echo hand well. It has great design and multiple options, including the Echo Dot priced at USD 50 and the Echo Look, which comes with a camera that can take selfies on command and offer fashion advice. Also, Alexa – the voice assistant within – will now be available in cars, on phones, in robots, toys and educational products.

Google Home came in strong, but didn’t offer anything new

Home

Google Home came in strong but didn’t do enough to differentiate or offer anything dramatically new. It did connect the audio and sound part to the TV and Video world – but hasn’t pushed the envelope. Yet, the Google Home is a very strong offering. Rumours of the next generation coming out with a screen and low pricing makes them a serious contender.

Pod

The Apple HomePod is being positioned as a serious audiophile audio speaker first and then a digital assistant. That’s smart, as Apple is late to the game and needs a differentiator. The other unique thing is that Siri is being tweaked to become a ‘musicologist’. Considering the pricing (at USD 349) and positioning, the HomePod has a long battle ahead.

With the Apple HomePod, Siri will now become a ‘musicologist’

Battle ahead

Apple still has about six months to get its HomePod strategy and features right. By that time, Amazon will have at least two new products, and rumours are strong that one of them will be an Audiophile-level JBL partnership product at under USD 200. Google Home 2, with its screen and its direct connection to a TV, will turn this market on its head. Hey Google, Alexa, Siri, do you have any idea who will win?

Even the big three have just one answer – Absolute Silence!

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, June 18, 2017

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First Published: Jun 17, 2017 22:31 IST