An interesting story emerged at Mobile World Congress (MWC) last week that is good news for Amazon. Lenovo’s Motorola smartphone division will begin including Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to its devices. This is particularly interesting because Motorola devices are based on the Android OS and already have access to Alexa rival Google Assistant. eWeek editor Chris Preimesberger commented:
In truth, the reality is that current smartphone handset makers use one voice assistant that comes with the operating system. Because Android is an open-source system, Motorola could replace Google with Alexa if desired, and that looks like what the plan is going to be for now.
Getting Alexa into Smartphones
Just about everyone has a smartphone. That means they already have access to a personal voice assistant such as Google Assistant or the less feature-rich Siri. It also means a personal voice assistant is always with consumers whether or not they have a table-top device. Amazon’s Alexa is typically anchored to a place where the Echo or Dot devices reside. Alexa users then have access to a voice assistant while at home or work, but not when on-the-go. This lack of “full-life” or “all-day” access is seen as a disadvantage for Amazon over the long-term. The solution is to get Alexa integrated into smartphones.
Huawei became the first smartphone manufacturer to ship with Alexa on board in January. According to IDC, Huawei had about 9% global market share in 2016 with Motorola/Lenovo coming in around 5%. Alexa is not available yet on all devices from those manufacturers, but you can see a path for the voice assistant to quickly penetrate 14% of the smartphone market.
A Win for Amazon and Concerns for Google
A blog on the Motorola website said this:
With our Amazon Alexa Moto Mod, you can easily perform everyday tasks while on the go, like controlling your smart home, checking the news, requesting a ride from services like Uber, and more — using just your voice. For example, when you start your commute home, you can ask Alexa to adjust your home’s temperature so it’s comfortable when you get there. Or, you can add milk to your shopping list without ever picking up a pen.
This is just the beginning for Alexa and Motorola. Later this year, we’ll add Alexa integration into our phones — and you won’t have to unlock the phone first.
Those are just the types of activities that Google Assistant is designed to perform for Android users. The lack of allegiance by Android-based smartphone manufacturers is a win for Amazon and must be concerning to Google.