Google Assistant to be Available on 1 Billion Devices This Month – 10x More Than Alexa
- Google Assistant will be available on 1 billion devices globally before the end of January 2019
- That is 10 times more than the 100 million devices Amazon says have access to the Alexa voice assistant
- Google says active Assistant users also grew four times over the past year but does not clarify what constitutes an “active user”
- Google Assistant is now available in 28 languages in 80 countries
Google announced this morning in a blog post that Google Assistant will be available on one billion devices by the end of this month. That is up from 500 million in May and notably is 10 times more than Amazon said last week were available with Alexa. Amazon has focused its expansion on new home-based devices such as smart speakers and appliances where Google Assistant also competes. However, Google also has the advantage of two billion Android smartphone users and has even moved into feature phones in India and Indonesia.
Notably, Google also announced that active Google Assistant users have quadrupled over the past year but does not indicate what qualifies as “active.” That data point goes part-way to addressing a common complaint among analysts and journalists that say devices with access doesn’t necessarily correlate with usage. A definition of “active” could help address that gap in data.
Active users of the Google Assistant grew four times over the past year.
Language Support Key Driver of Device Access Growth
A large smartphone user base and the Google Home product line were only part of the reason for Google Assistant device access growth. Another key ingredient was the rapid expansion of Google Assistant language support. It is now available in “in nearly 30 languages and 80 countries, up from eight languages and 14 countries last year.” Google announced in February 2018 that Google Assistant would support 30 language localizations by the end of the year. It appears the company didn’t quite make that goal with only 28 available today through the Google Assistant app. However, the countries that did get Google Assistant support have helped drive the voice assistant access to the one billion device mark.
How Can Alexa Compete?
The one billion figure raises an obvious question. How can Alexa compete with Google’s device reach fueled by a decade in the smartphone and smart device market? One suggestion popular among voice industry professionals is for Amazon to try introducing a smartphone again. Amazon senior vice president David Limp didn’t seem to have much appetite for that approach in a recent interview with The Verge. He said Amazon is focused on building out the ambient computing device ecosystem which is comprised of devices in places such as the home and office as opposed to something we carry with us.
With that said, Amazon does have a path for Alexa on mobile today. Almost all Echo smart speaker activations are performed today through the Alexa app on iOS or Android. That same app also provides Alexa access today. So, Amazon can bypass the need for a smartphone platform and simply go the app route which is already in production. That approach sacrifices some functionality that requires OS-level smartphone integration but it may be that the majority of voice assistant commands don’t benefit that benefit because they are device independent. If you include the number of smartphones that have downloaded the Alexa app, the device support number is clearly much higher than 100 million number even if it is still dwarfed by Google Assistant’s one billion milestone.