Choosing your smart speaker vendor

Alexa or Google? Navigating hardware decisions

We founded Voice2Biz Inc years ago on the premise that our technology and services would serve all smart speakers so whatever device you chose, we’d be there.

Initially, that meant all of our skills, actions, and bots, would be cross platform and work equally across Amazon Alexa, Google Home/Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana. Apple was not a player in smart speakers in the early days.

Since our founding, the landscape of smart speakers has changed dramatically.

Microsoft Cortana never took off. Much of their smart speaker APIs never got out of beta. And, what was there, was derived from their bot services and was incredibly buggy.

Apple came out with their HomePod later, but in true Apple fashion, made their technology closed. They stated they didn’t want to compete with Amazon in this market. The result is their HomePod sales are minuscule compared to Amazon and Google.

Google came out with their Google Home device which runs Google Assistant. Initially, the Google devices were somewhat equivalent to the Amazon devices. This quickly changed as Amazon continued to drive their device and software technology forward while Google languished behind.

As of today, the Google Action API capability is but a fraction of the Amazon Alexa API capability.

The available Alexa capabilities are far richer than any of its competition, especially for screen devices.

The result of all this is 90% of the new Mavis capabilities we code and offer are Amazon Alexa specific.

What does this mean for businesses? Which to chose?

It all depends on whether your business wants custom smart device applications (e.g., skills or actions).

 

If you don’t need or want custom smart device applications for your business, then you can choose either Amazon or Google and be fine. Apple and Microsoft are out.

 

If you need a custom smart device application for your business, and you only need it to be “audio” and not “visual”, then again both Amazon and Google are good choices.

 

The big departure is if your company wants a custom smart speaker application that includes visual content. In this case, Amazon is the clear winner by far.

For screen devices, the Google API for visual content is infantile compared to Amazon’s Alexa API.

 

Given that visual content makes for a far richer experience than audio alone, we always recommend businesses go with smart speakers with screens. This means going with Alexa.

 

Our MAVIS technology is more and more focused on Alexa multimodal content. For the time being, we’ve stopped adding Google Assistant features because they’re so far behind Amazon. Google simply doesn’t offer nearly the rich multimodal capabilities available from Alexa.

 

So, if you’re a business and want to purchase smart speakers with custom applications, go with Amazon’s Alexa. It’s really a one horse race at the moment for the business segment.

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