Google and Amazon Fought a Smart-Home Battle at CES 2019
Who won? It depends on how you look at it.
How much did consumers spend on smart-home technology in 2018? $31.4 billion. That’s how much, according to Statista. By 2022, it’ll be almost double that.
The obvious leader in all this — the company that owns a significant share of that smart-home industry — is Amazon, which has reportedly sold 100 million Alexa devices. Google, which sells a whole collection of Google Assistant-supporting home devices, controls another chunk. The two companies are locked in a battle for the heart and soul of your smart-home experience, with Apple’s HomeKit standing off to the side. Many smart-home devices were on display at CES 2019, but the tech conference did little to clarify which company is on the path to total market dominance.
Each took a different approach to capture our attention. Google was all shock and awe, blanketing the convention with billboards and constructing a ride in the style of Disney’s It’s a Small World. The thing was so massive, they poured a fresh concrete foundation to support it. Amazon surely spent a fraction of what Google did — I can’t remember a single Alexa billboard — but it still owned huge mindshare across a wide array of vendors at the show. Apple’s HomeKit and Siri remain third wheels, supported by manufacturers along with Alexa and Google Assistant but never front and center. And let’s not forget the Rodney Dangerfield of voice assistants: Samsung’s Bixby, which enjoyed a big play at Samsung’s monolithic CES booth but was mostly absent everywhere else.
Based on the coverage, Amazon Alexa surely emerged triumphant. It was part of so many products, from cars to toilets, that many found it impossible to ignore.
But to understand who’s really on top in the voice assistant and smart-home war, you need to look beyond the show floor and consider the state of play in the months and weeks leading up to the world’s largest consumer electronics show.