Google unveiled its new conversational assistant last year during the launch of its new Pixel phone. At the time, the assistant was launched as an exclusive to the Pixel, Home and its chat app Allo. Now Google is making the assistant available to anyone with an Android 6 or Android 7 based smartphone.
Most industry watchers did not expect the Google Assistant to be made publicly available to phones from other vendors so quickly. It was meant as a unique selling proposition for its Pixel line of smartphones. However, due in large part to the sudden increase in devices with Amazon’s Alexa, Google has been forced to change plans.
At CES 2017, Vendors announced Alexa support for smartphones, refrigerators, home appliances and even cars. The sudden spate of Alexa announcements caught everyone, including Google off-guard. These announcements meant that unless Google Assistant were made available, Alexa would be everywhere. Also, Alexa is open to third party developers. As a result, it has thousands of skills that users can apply to the device.
However, it is still not too late for Google. It can push an update that activates the assistant on the Google application overnight. By leveraging its presence on Android, it can add more than a hundred million devices to its user base overnight. It would not be surprising to see several hundred million users by the end of the year.
This does pose a problem for its Pixel 2 smartphone, which will not have the assistant as an exclusive to boost sales.