LG is offering a free Google Home with G6 smartphone pre-orders in the U.S. through the end of March. The G6 is expected to ship in early April and Best Buy is forecasting a delivery date of April 7th. The promotion is available for consumers that order through AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon and Best Buy. At a time when smartphones are having a hard time differentiating and consumers are delaying upgrades, this is the type of promotion that might cajole a few more consumers to purchase a new LG phone this month. LG has quietly been gaining momentum in the smartphone wars and it no doubt wants to maintain the trend. Kantar Media reports that LG grew its global market share from 7 to 14 percent between 2014 – 2016.
The Google Assistant Smartphone Tie-In
Google heavily promotes the cross-platform nature of Google Assistant. It is available on the latest Android smartphones today and is also the brains behind Google Home. That means the voice assistant in your smart speaker is the same as the one on your phone so you have access wherever you may be. Context and continuity throughout the day are key selling points. Amazon is attempting to exploit a similar strategy with its recent agreements to include Alexa in Huawei and Motorola smartphones. Alexa also appeared last week on iPhones through the Amazon shopping app, but that is a much less robust implementation than a fully integrated assistant on the phone. All of these moves do demonstrate that Amazon recognizes how important smartphone presence and integration will be. This is a clear advantage for Google as it tries to eat into Amazon’s leading voice assistant market share.
Who Has The Channel Advantage?
The hoard of OEMs with Alexa integrations on display at CES presented narrative that Amazon had a big lead for channel distribution of Alexa. That is true for IoT devices, but clearly is not for smartphones. There are three fronts in the current battle. The first two are about where consumers will be able to access their voice assistant of choice on third-party devices. Smartphones and IoT devices are the focus in those skirmishes. The third is which manufacturer will have the prominent smart device in the home with far-field voice interaction. Google has an early lead in Smartphones, Amazon has a slight lead in IoT and a big head-start in the home with about 90% device market share. This is where the LG promotion offers Google another angle of attack. Its Android smartphone partners can quickly help increase the distribution of Google Home. So, sometimes a simple promotion is indicative of larger strategic moves in the market.