In the battle for the future of voice computers, Google is moving fast


At last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, the Google Assistant was inescapable.

There was a “Hey Google” ad on the side of the Las Vegas monorail, a reference to the magic words for invoking voice commands with the Google Assistant. The search giant also had a massive booth with a slide, which infamously got flooded out during an unseasonably intense storm on the first day of the show.

Indoors, many, if not most, of the internet-connected appliance vendors at the show boasted “Works with Google Assistant” emblems on their booth, or some variation. And then there was Google’s CES party where John Legend performed for a very exclusive audience.

Google had some big news at the show, too: It was partnering up with companies including Lenovo, LG, and Sony to launch a line of Google Assistant-powered “smart displays,” which are basically just Google Home speakers with a screen. Plus, companies like Bose and LG are building Assistant into their headphones and TVs, respectively.

This was all clearly Google’s way of striking back at Amazon Alexa, the market leader in this new category of voice-command devices.

Amazon was far and away the winner of last year’s CES, with Alexa the star of many show-floor demonstrations. Google was at last year’s CES, too, promoting its Google Home speakers. But all anybody wanted to talk about was Alexa.


At the 2018 show, Google Assistant grabbed the spotlight.

“It is too early to measure the impact of Google’s presence at CES, but they certainly made an impression,” says Gartner Research Director Werner Goertz, who was at the show.