Google Home officially landed in Germany yesterday. The German launch was previously announced at the Google I/O developer conference and then the date was confirmed in a July Voicebot article. The device is selling for €149 and operates in the German language. Many Germans had previously acquired Google Home devices that supported only English-language interaction. Now Germans have native language access to Google Home.
Everywhere Amazon Echo Is, And More
Amazon Echo was first smart speaker to land in Germany in the fall of 2016. Since that time, Google Home has arrived in the U.S., UK and Germany matching every market where Amazon Echo has a presence. Google also leapt ahead of Amazon by becoming first-to-market in Canada, Australia and France where consumers still do not have access to Echo. Google Home trails Amazon Echo by a significant margin in the U.S. in part due to a two year head start for Alexa. However, Google has the advantage of hundreds of millions of Android users that now have access to Google Assistant, a Google Assistant app for iPhone and a leading position in three countries.
Alexa Has Skills, Google Home Can Close the Gap
Amazon Echo also has over 1800 German-language Alexa skills, or voice applications, developed by third parties while Google Home today appears to have none for German today. However, 1800 is a much smaller gap for Google to close than the 17,500 voice application deficit for English language voice applications. One German user I spoke with said it hadn’t made much difference so far. He commented:
I preferred Alexa until last weekend, but now I’m a big fan of Google Home. It’s quite reliable, but Google Home still has some issues. When I say in German, ‘Ok Google, start playing Spotify,’ it starts a random playlist. I think it will get better and for simple questions Google has better answers today.
Voice Assistant Momentum and Multiple Winners
Jan Koenig, co-founder of voice application development platform Jovo, was optimistic about the future of both Amazon Echo and Google Home in Germany based on current interest in the devices. He commented this morning:
#GoogleHome was a Twitter Trending Topic in Germany yesterday. It’s great to see how the launch of the second smart speaker platform here increases the overall awareness for voice assistants. Amazon has a six months head start, but after reading through a lot of sometimes heated consumer discussions, I believe it hasn’t won the battle yet. The way people talk, it even feels like iOS/Android discussions and mindsets. So, there might be no single winner, but multiple platforms at the end.
Mr. Koenig is in good company with this prediction. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos said last year in a 2016 interview with Recode’s Walt Mossberg that, “all the major tech companies will do this, but there’ll also be hundreds of startup companies.” Mossberg added in a later article, “[Bezos] predicted that people will use different AI ‘agents’ for different things.” German speakers now have at least two “AI agents” in smart speakers to choose from. Competition is heating up quickly.