Google announced at its annual I/O developer conference today that Google Home will be coming soon to UK, Germany, France, Japan, Canada and Australia. The comment was, “starting this summer,” so the official launch dates are unconfirmed. However, this likely will make Google Home the first smart speaker in four of these countries. Amazon Echo has been available in the UK and Germany since the fall of 2016.
Voicebot also reported in April on a developer discovery of a .jp endpoint that suggests Japan may be the next launch country for Amazon Echo. However, there is no confirmation today from Amazon on a Japan launch. The announcement by Google creates more pressure to roll that out and it may mean Google leads Amazon into the country. Google also announced it would be available in Portuguese this summer and by “by the end of the year we will also support Spanish, Italian and Korean.”
Voice Assistant Race to Market
Everyone recognizes now that Amazon’s early market entry in the U.S. was a significant advantage in user adoption and cultivation of an active developer community. A VoiceLabs survey in 2016 found that only 11% of consumers were likely to adopt more than one voice assistant. The hypothesis that VoiceLabs put forward was that this may not be a “winner-take-all market,” but may be a “winner-take-entire-household market.” The first to establish a presence in the home has an advantage to be that winner over time. The first to market in each country and language has a big advantage implementing this strategy.
Google also announced that there are more than two billion Android smartphone users worldwide, 100 million of which have access to Google Assistant today. It is clear that the company plans to take Google Home and Google Assistant global. It is worth noting that Android was once a distant second to iOS in smartphone market share, but now commands over 85% global market share. Google is a global business that supports technology at scale even more than it did when attempting to build smartphone market share. It looks like it may have first mover in a few markets before the end of the year.