Bose Adds Google Assistant to Line of Smart Speakers
Bose 500 smart speakers and the Bose 500 and 700 soundbars today introduced a Google Assistant option for the onboard voice assistant. The smart speaker models were first introduced in August 2018 with Amazon Alexa. At the time the company said more voice assistant options would come in 2019. The addition of Google Assistant to Bose speakers arrives just a week after Sonos made a similar announcement to complement its pre-existing Alexa option.
The Bose implementation represents the second smart speaker line, along with Sonos, to offer users a choice among multiple voice assistants. However, users can only use one voice assistant at a time. Similar to the Sonos implementation, the voice assistant is selected during device set-up so users must choose either Google Assistant or Alexa and cannot use them simultaneously.
A software update available today to Bose device owners will enable them to change their current settings from Alexa and new devices will have the option upon setup. The Bose 500 is available for purchase today for $400 and the 500 and 700 soundbars are priced at $550 and $800 respectively.
More Evidence of the Duopoly
The moves this month by Bose and Sonos are indicative of what we have seen previously from other third-party device makers. There is a recognition that Alexa and Google Assistant are popular with consumers and supporting both platforms is a good idea if you want to reach over 90% of voice assistant users on smart speakers. The key difference with other manufacturers is that they have introduced different devices which are each assistant-specific. Bose and Sonos have a simpler offer to consumers. If you like our speaker, you can have it with either assistant.
This is particularly important for premium device makers. Many households are not going to outfit an entire home with several $400 smart speakers. Instead, they will have a few lower priced smart speakers from Amazon or Google and include a premium speaker in one room. The premium device makers, therefore, know that their products will be complementing an existing smart speaker ecosystem choice. Providing options for both Alexa and Google Assistant offers these smart speaker makers the broadest appeal to consumers that are making voice assistant choices that are driving decisions on other device purchases.
Apple is the other key player in this market, but it is not getting on-device integration for Siri. The control extends in most cases to AirPlay 2 which still requires an iOS device for control features. So, the real market today is about Google Assistant and Alexa. Amazon had an advantage in terms of earlier introduction and that meant bringing on device makers sooner. Google Assistant has proven itself in the market and is now receiving similar attention and priority from device makers. You should expect to see more of companies committing to both platforms because that is the majority of the market today.