Google announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that at least four major manufacturers — JBL, LG, Lenovo, and Sony — are creating smart display products that incorporate the voice-activated Google Assistant, according to a Google blog post.
The Internet giant also said the list of companies integrating Google Assistant into their own smart speaker products is growing to include Altec Lansing, Anker Innovations, Bang & Olufsen, Braven, iHome, JBL, Jensen, LG, Klipsch, Knit Audio, Memorex, RIVA Audio and SōLIS.
Google announced plans to continue expanding the virtual assistant's presence in a wide array of other products, including mobile smartphones, Android TVs, headphones and in more than 400 car models through its existing Android Auto solution, according to the blog post.
A few months ago, it seemed like Google had no chance at all of catching up to Amazon in the virtual assistant market and only a moderately better chance of doing so in the long term. Amazon has held as much as 68% to 75% of the smart speaker market share in the early going, depending on who you ask, and yet has been unrelenting in its efforts to get the Alexa virtual assistant into still more products beyond the Echo and other device families.
However, Google seems to have no fear of the amount of ground it needs to make up to win this race. In a blog post this week, the company reiterated its claim that, "more than one Google Home device has been sold every second" since October, when the Google Mini began shipping. Also, research-driven venture capital firm Loup Ventures said recently that it expects Google Home to gain market share in the smart speaker market this year.
The best way for Google to do that is to be as unrelenting as Amazon is about getting its virtual assistant into as many types of products as possible. This week's CES has become a showcase for both in their efforts to do that. Amazon announced Alexa's move into personal computers, connected toilets and more cars, and not to be outdone, Google talked up plans to put Google Assistant into smart display products that seem aimed to compete directly against Amazon's Echo Show. Those smart displays could have huge potential, as users will be able to access, via touchscreen, the massive existing environment of Google apps and services, such as YouTube.
The tech giants' expansion plans seem to be bumping up against each other. Amazon said Alexa would be in more Toyota and Lexus cars, and Google said its Assistant would come to Android Auto this week. Amazon recently announced a push into mobile accessories, such as headphones, and now Google is talking about Assistant-enabled headphones. You get the idea. It's not so much that Google is copying Amazon's approach — it's more like both companies understand what it's going to take to win the race to voice-activate our everyday lives.
Amazon has dominated this race in the early going, but it may not be settled just yet. Google seems intent on keeping up with the pace that Amazon has set, and if it can find more ways to use Google Assistant in Google apps and services, as the smart displays seemed designed to do, this battle could take on a new dimension in 2018.