Alexa Gets Another Smartphone Partner for India in Coolpad
Coolpad is a Chinese smartphone maker that claims to sell 34 million devices annually. The company has a particular focus on the India market and at Mobile World Congress announced it would integrate Amazon Alexa into its Coolplay 6 and Note 5 models through an over-the-air (OTA) update. Coolpad CEO Syed Tajuddin commented:
We are working to immerse more AI and tech into smartphones to make the experience more Intelligent, friendly and beneficial for the customers. Incorporating Alexa in Coolpad smartphones is one such step in that direction. As Coolpad is looking forward to make smartphones more intelligent and helpful with AI, Alexa is a perfect fit.
He also commented that “upcoming devices” will have Alexa pre-installed. The Alexa integration will be app based and offer access to skills and Amazon.in for shopping. Coolpad produces Android OS smartphones which presumably can also include Google Assistant.
OEM Integrations Increase
This announcement is significant because Amazon is looking for more smartphone partners to increase Alexa availability on mobile. It is not clear how deeply Alexa will integrate into the smartphone OS, but it appears to be only at the app level. This contrasts with Google’s recent OEM partnering efforts which includes both native Google Assistant integration and custom commands specific to the devices.
Amazon would like to see deeper Alexa integration into smartphones, but Apple is not inclined to introduce a rival to Siri and Android commands over 85% of global market share. Since Google Assistant includes deep OS integration in Android, Amazon can at best hope to reach parity by developing its own deep integration with Android OS. That hasn’t happened yet as announcements like Coolpad focus on app-based interaction and typically start with touch activation before becoming hands free. With that said, the announcement is progress for Alexa in gaining more mobile device distribution.
A Greater Focus on India
The other notable aspect of this announcement is the focus on India. The U.S. and Europe and to a lesser extent Japan have been the primary battlegrounds for voice assistant market share between Amazon and Google. India is definitely getting more attention and even two feature phone makers, HMD (Nokia brand) and JioPhone, have announced Google Assistant integration for India. Google has also announced that Hindi will be a supported language on Assistant in 2018. Amazon, for its part, is just starting to get some traction on mobile but was first to market with a smart speaker for India. Given the size of the market, its openness to foreign competitors compared to China, and rising average income, expect to see India become an even greater focus for Amazon and Google in 2018.