Google Home Mini to Compete with Echo Dot Starting in October
Droid Life has a scoop that Google will announced the Google Home Mini at the company’s event on October 4th. The October event is semi-officially focused on the launch of the Pixel 2 smartphone. However, last year’s Pixel launch event was also the official unveiling and pricing for Google Home. Droid Life’s Kellen Barranger writes:
We’ve heard rumors about a Google Home “mini” possibly being on the way and today we can confirm that it exists, how much it costs, and the colors it’ll be available in…the Google Home Mini (official name) will arrive in Chalk, Charcoal, and Coral colors…It’ll cost just $49 and is, of course, sports Google Assistant.
You can see from the images that the devices will be much more compact than Google Home and have what look like lights on the top underneath a fabric mesh. Assuming this scoop is legitimate, the devices will fit the aesthetic of the current Google Home but not have the more robust internal speakers.
Google Home Mini Takes on Amazon Echo Dot
There are widely varying reports about Google Home sales figures that range from less than 1 million units sold to more than six million. However, no one disputes that the $49 Amazon Echo Dot–which is often discounted by $5, $10 and even $15–has helped Amazon maintain smart speaker market share and drive higher than expected unit sales. This low-priced offering is augmented by the even less expensive Echo Dot clone Eufy Genie which officially lists at $59.99 but has consistently been selling at $34.99 or even $29.99.
Google Home lists for $129. That is 2-3 times higher than the Echo Dot. When Google was first planning its product launch in 2016, the $129 figure looked attractive compared to $179 for the original Amazon Echo. However, Amazon brought out the low-priced Echo Dot shortly before the Google launch event which has left its product pricing in right in the middle of Amazon’s two flagship smart speaker products.
Google Not Waiting for Partners to Fill Product Line Gap
Nvidia announced a Google Assistant driven smart speaker called Spot in January 2017 at CES. The target price point is $50 and it plugs directly into a wall outlet. The idea was no cords and it would be easy to place them throughout the home. However, that product has yet to be released nine months later and it requires you to also have the Nvidia Shield smart home and over the top (OTT) TV system. I have tested Nvidia Shield and have a favorable impression, but that is another $200 investment for consumers who may already have an OTT solution or prefer to stay with cable TV. How many consumers will pay $200 to be able to then buy $50 Google Assistant devices?
Google has had some recent success getting high-end third party solutions like Harman Kardon’s JBL speaker line and Bose QuietComfort headphones to add Assistant capability. But neither of these offerings filled the gap for a low cost product. Google needs to have some control over its own fate and the Google Home Mini will help the company compete at the entry level price point of the smart speaker market. The buyers at this level are not looking for a way to play music. They are interested in access to a voice assistant.
Google Home Mini is Important for Overseas Sales Volume
Google Home Mini will be an important product for ensuring that Google doesn’t lose more ground to Amazon in the U.S. However, it will be equally important in the markets where Google Home is currently sold and Amazon Echo is absent. Google was first to market in Australia, Canada and France for locally optimized smart speakers. That timing no doubt has helped Google gain an early lead with technology aficionados in both countries. But, consider this. If Amazon were to enter those markets next month and have an offering at 40% of the cost, Google could squander its early market lead. Google still has some ground to make up in the U.S., UK and Germany, but it should be on a level playing field and may have an advantage in other geographies now that it will have the Google Home Mini in its corner.