Google’s big reveal event this week drew rave reviews and upped the stakes for the battle for the smart home. While most of the media attention focused on the consumer electronics hardware Google announced, the real story is about the software and the data powering those devices.
Let’s look at what each device means, one by one.
The Pixel Phone
Here’s Google’s ad for the Pixel.
My initial reaction after seeing the ad for the first time was, It looks like an Apple ad. I didn’t know they had it in them.
Google’s selling points for the Pixel include:
- Conversational input via Google Assistant (formerly known as Google Now)
- The best smartphone camera ever with HDR on by default
- Unlimited cloud storage for photos and video
- Video chat with Google Duo
- Charge for 7 hours in just 15 minutes
- Built for Virtual Reality
Just when Apple appears to be running out of steam with the underwhelming rollout of the iPhone 7 and with the Samsung Galaxy Note recall, Google’s timing couldn’t be better.
Inc. proclaimed a changing of the guard with a headline reading: It’s Official: Google is the New Apple. Whereas Apple seems to have pushed the limits to hardware innovation, Google is running with the next stage of innovation with software.
One glaring example that demonstrates Google’s software superiority is in the area of photographic classification. Anyone who has taken a lot of digital photos over the years knows that the bane of their existence is organizing them after the fact. Renaming those ubiquious IMG_00765.jpg file names and dragging them into folders takes way too much time and way too much patience for mere mortals.
Google Photos has solved the issue by doing that classification for you via its increasingly intelligent machine vision algorithms.
[Tweet “RT @KarwoskiCourage Your Life: Made By Google #SmartHomes”]
As we’ve discussed before, technology has been evolving over the years toward ever more effortless input. And what is more effortless and natural than vocal commands? Apple has Siri, Amazon has Alexa, Microsoft has Cortana and Google has Google Assistant.
Here’s the promo video:
Google already has a lot of experience with voice recognition and response. Google has been collecting and acting upon voice queries since it launched voice search in 2002. Along the way, it added a voice translation app and released Google Now in 2012, which has evolved into Google Assistant.
Where Google has an edge over its competitors is what it already knows about you. Here’s a sample of what the company knows about you:
- It knows everything you’ve searched for in the past (assuming you used Google to search),
- It knows about your appointments and travel plans (assuming you use Gmail),
- It knows where you go and when (assuming you use Google Maps),
- It know to whom you’re connected (Gmail, again),
- It knows where and when you’ve taken photographs and what of (assuming you use Google Photos),
- It knows what YouTube videos you’ve watched.
The only competitor who approaches Google in terms of what it knows about you is probably Amazon. But Google has far more comprehensive user profiles from which the company can personalize it’s products. The idea that they want to give you your own personal Google is not a mere slogan.
While all of this would likely creep a lot of consumers out if they really thought about it, that level of personalization does provide real value that will likely have great market appeal and offer Google a very strong selling point over competitors.
Daydream View VR Headset
Google has graduated from the DIY Cardboard VR viewer to an actual consumer virtual reality headset that can compete with Samsung’s Gear VR headset. Here’s the Daydream View promo video:
In order for virtual reality to capture mainstream demand, there must be enough compelling content for people to seek it out. Google as lined up some major content providers, including:
- Hulu, and
- An exclusive deal with Warner Brothers to bring JK Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” to Daydream View.
Google’s own services are built into Daydream View, of course, including:
- Google Play Movies,
- Google Photos,
- Google Street View, and
- YouTube (and consumers will get a free six-month trial of the ad-free YouTube Red service with a purchase).
Keep in mind, as well, that Google supports 360 photos and video and the Google Play Store also hosts games, so developers will be able to create and sell VR games for Daydream View in the future, too.
Google Home ties everything together and puts the company at the center of the crown jewel of the future of communications, the smart home. Here’s the promo video:
Microsoft’s attempts at home invasion have focused on the Xbox and it’s voice-activated, motion-sensing Kinect controller. Apple Home has been less successful, though Apple TV has gained a foothold among Apple fanboys.
Amazon is the clear leader at present with it’s popular Echo line of products, so that is the company Google is taking on with the Home device.
While Amazon has a significant lead right now, don’t bet against Google. Again, the company has extensive experience with voice technologies, can tie together a far wider array of services to add value to its home automation offerings, and can give consumers an unprecedented degree of personalization.
To make the experience with Google Home top notch, uninterrupted bandwidth is essential. To that end, the company wants to boost your WiFi signal with Google WiFi, which will also, not coincidentally, more precisely track your behavior within your home.
Gmail: Google’s Key To Your Kingdom
TechCrunch reports that Gmail boasts more than one billion logged-in users.
That’s a big built-in audience. And a Gmail account will no-doubt be required to activate a Pixel phone or Google Home. Once you have a Gmail account, then your online activity can be tracked across all Google properties.
Not only is that the key to providing hyper-personalized products, but it is also the key to providing the behavior across devices for marketers to target and measure. Google’s marketing services include:
- Google AdWords for search ads,
- Google DoubleClick for display advertising,
- Google AdMob for mobile ads,
- YouTube TrueView for video ads,
- Google Analytics & Tag Manager for measuring.
And the company is moving toward using logged-in users as the standard of measurement to offer marketers more precise insight into cross-device behavior:
— Matt McGowan (@matt_mcgowan) September 26, 2016
What Does This Mean For Marketers, Advertisers & Public Relations Pros?
If you are going to root for a specific company to dominate the smart home market, it should probably be Google.
Apple has always wanted to control what they do from beginning to end, so the ability for marketers to get their messages into the Apple ecosphere has always been–and likely will remain–severely limited.
Unless you’ve got a huge budget to create a video game, getting your content into the Microsoft ecosystem is limited to creating chat bots for Skype.
Amazon provides a few more opportunities for marketers to introduce content to its base of users:
- Obviously, anyone can sell products on Amazon,
- You can also publish books via Amazon (physical, audio or eBooks),
- You can create apps for the Kindle app store, and
- Developers can write apps (or “Skills,” as Amazon calls them) for the Echo.
Most of what Google has built has been created around an open mentality.
Google search is built on top of the web but doesn’t try to replace it, as Facebook does. Google’s Android operating system is open source, as opposed to Apple’s proprietary iOS. Anyone can upload video to YouTube, unlike Amazon Prime.
With Google, you can optimize your web content and YouTube videos to be found via search. You can develop apps for the Google Play Store without the comparatively arduous process Apple requires.
The point being, that there are a lot more opportunities for marketers to enter the Google ecosystem than there are with its competitors. In keeping with that open mentality, Google will offer application programming interfaces and software development kits for anyone to develop for Google Assistant. And then there are all of Google’s advertising services.
Made By Google Event Video
To get a richer sense of where Google is going with all this, I encourage you to watch the entire Made By Google event video. (Read this quick How To Watch YouTube Videos Faster tip before you start if the hour and a half viewing time is too much for you.)
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