eBay has updated its Google Assistant app to allow users to search for products on the Google Home smart speaker and then continue the shopping session on a smartphone, according to an eBay blog post.
The post, from Jay Vasudevan, lead product manager at eBay, stated that users can start conversational shopping sessions with the Google Assistant by saying "Hey Google, ask eBay to find" whatever product they are looking for.
The eBay app, which can be used on Android or iOS smartphones, is one of the first to leverage new capabilities recently announced by Google, including multi-surface switching – the ability to move a Google Assistant conversation from one device to another, according to a recent VentureBeat story.
The Google Home device, powered by the Google Assistant AI, has a lot of work to do to catch up to the Amazon Echo in the smart speaker market. Even if that goal seems unattainable (and it might be), new apps with useful capabilities can tremendously enhance the market value of Google's smart speaker solutions.
Offerings like the eBay app could help deliver that kind of value, and more, by bridging the home-based smart speaker shopping experience and the on-the-go mobile shopping experience. While allowing the shopping session to move off of Google's own device might seem like a mistake, the product search results that the AI comes up with are actually moved to the Google Assistant app on the mobile phone, rather than to a browser, so Google is still involved in the shopping session.
This is just the latest interesting app to emerge from the partnership of eBay and Google. The companies earlier this year announced a digital concierge service for Google Home called ShopBot, which allowed users to ask Google Assistant to determine the value of objects within their own homes.
eBay and Google have each struggled in their own ways in Amazon's shadow. The former continues in its efforts to move beyond auction site status to become an Amazon-like marketplace, and Google is trying to replicate Amazon's success in the smart speaker market, teaming up with the likes of Home Depot and Walmart to get an edge on the e-commerce giant. Applying AI to the shopping experience might be an area where both can keep pace with Amazon and, in the process, hopefully draw shopper attention away from the big rival.