Amazon isn’t the only company to be struggling to make money with its digital assistant. After it was reported last month that Amazon may lose $10 billion on Alexa and other devices this year, Google is apparently scaling down its investments in its Google Assistant.
If we’re likely going to see new Google Assistant-powered smart home devices from Google, third-party devices that use Google Assistant could well be going away. The information comes from the French blog Multiroom (via Igen), citing discussions from manufacturers.
The news echoes a previous report from The Information detailing Google’s cost-cutting measures affecting Google Assistant and the company’s Google TV software. The report said that Google was planning to “invest less in developing its Google Assistant voice-assisted search for cars and for devices not made by Google, including TVs, headphones, smart-home speakers, smart glasses and smartwatches that use Google’s Wear OS software.”
Just as Amazon realized with Alexa, it’s really hard to build monetization scenarios around digital assistants, except for the royalties both companies get when third-party manufacturers integrate these assistants into their products. Google Assistant can’t read or show you ads, and people also aren’t using Alexa to buy products they can’t see on Amazon.
Google is still promoting third-party speakers with Google Assistant on its online store, but the selection is currently quite meager. If you don’t count Google’s own Nest Mini and Nest Audio devices, there’s a total of 19 third-party speakers or soundbars from Sonos, Bose, JBL, Bang & Olufsen, and other manufacturers. As you may remember, Google and Sonos have sued each other over a patent dispute, and Google announced earlier this year that it would remove some features from its smart speakers and displays because they infringe on Sonos patents.
Google has yet to officially announce a new direction for its Google Assistant, but it also hasn’t refreshed its smart speaker lineup this year. The company’s brand new Nest Wi-Fi Pro router also no longer comes with Google Assistant built-in, which may be another sign of things to come.