Smart displays are a new voice assistant battleground for 2018. The Amazon Echo Show created the category in 2017 and the Echo Spot brought out a second form factor late in the year. By many accounts, adding smart speakers to displays has been popular with consumers and both devices have experienced sell-outs and delayed shipments.
Given the popularity and segment potential, it was not surprising to see four device manufacturers announce smart displays for 2018 at CES. However, something about their announcement was worth noting. JBL, Lenovo, LG and Sony all announced smart displays powered by Google Assistant. No third-party manufacturer has announced a smart display powered by Alexa.
Why is Alexa All Alone
This raises an interesting question. Why? There are numerous smart speakers with Alexa that compete directly with the Echo and Echo Dot. This is also true for Google Assistant-supported devices that compete with Google Home. And yet, we have four announced smart display devices with Google Assistant and no third parties committed to Alexa for this form factor. Alexa has to date always led with the new products and third-party device announcements.
Is Google seen as a better partner in this space? Does Amazon’s aggressive discounting cause concern among device manufacturers that they will not be able to compete? It is still early in the smart display market so we could see third-party smart displays with Alexa in 2018. And, there are certainly many TV-makers that are enthusiastically supporting Alexa and enabling smart display-like experiences for consumers. However, this is a segment to watch to understand how the Alexa and Google Assistant ecosystems are evolving. Echo Show and Echo Spot have the smart display market to themselves, for now. Competition is coming and it is an open question whether Amazon will be battling for this segment on its own.