Google is poised to make another blitz at CES 2020


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The expression “Hey Google” was all over in Las Vegas at last year’s CES.

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

This story belongs to CES 2020, our total protection of the display room flooring and the most popular brand-new tech devices around.

You will not need to browse tough for Google at the Consumer Electronics Show next month. You never ever do.

A year earlier at CES, the world’s biggest tech conference, Google went huge. The search giant constructed a sophisticated enjoyable home committed to Google Assistant, its digital assistant that takes on Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. The two-story pop-up consisted of an amusement park flight a la “It’s a Small World” that had riders utilize Google’s software application to assist a crazy papa make it through a day of errands.

The search giant plastered the words “Hey Google” — the trigger expression for Assistant — all over Las Vegas, where the exhibition happens. The expression appeared above among the primary entryways of the city’s convention center, as if Google had the identifying rights to the structure. (It didn’t.) The business likewise turned the city’s monorail into moving signboards and employed an army of human “Google Assistants,” worn all-white, to wander the program flooring.

Google is most likely to take control of Sin City once again when CES 2020 starts in the 2nd week of January, a quite exceptional accomplishment when you consider it’s perhaps the world capital of sensory overload. The tech program has actually grown in value to Google, which is attempting to offer more customer gadgets that contend versus the similarity Amazon, Apple and Samsung. As it attempts to reach those customers, the search giant is putting marketing dollars into its promos, similar to every other tech business.

“We’ve spent a lot of energy over the last couple of years really getting the Assistant out,” Scott Huffman, who leads engineering for Google Assistant, informed me at CES 2019. A digital assistant, he kept in mind, isn’t really handy if you do not understand it exists.

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Google is taking on all comers in the digital assistant space. But the grudge match that’s developed between Google and Amazon has become a focal point of CES. Amazon takes a low-key approach compared to Google. But look around the massive show and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a device that doesn’t have a “Works with Alexa” label every few feet.

The stakes are higher than ever for Google. It had been slowly catching up to Amazon in the smart speaker market until this year, when Google’s growth bombed. The company’s share of the market shrank to 12% from roughly 30%, while Amazon grew to 37% from about 32%, according to Canalys. Chinese companies Alibaba and Baidu emerged as new threats, with each overtaking Google.

“Amazon had a head start and hasn’t let up,” said Avi Greengart, lead analyst at Techsponential. “Google needs to show its own momentum.”

The search giant made a good case for why its software could outsmart rivals at the last CES. The company announced a new interpreter mode that could translate conversations in real time, a feature that leans into Google’s formidable machine learning and engineering chops. Earlier this month, Google brought the feature to smartphones. None of the competing digital assistants have features that are as ambitious.

Google has made huge investments in consumer devices. At an event in October, Google released the fourth generation of its flagship Pixel phone that comes with a top-of-the-line camera and radar tech for gesture controls. The company also debuted new mesh routers and smart speakers. And last month, Google announced the $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit, the fitness tracker pioneer.

For the most part, Google has made that hardware push to serve one end: Spread Assistant far and wide. At the October event, executives talked up the idea of “ambient computing,” an always-on, always-connected vision of the future that puts Google’s services all around you. Assistant is the centerpiece of that strategy, an extension of Google’s iconic search engine.

“Whether it’s on computers, phones or smart speakers,” Greengart said, “wherever a search starts, Google wants to be a part of it.”

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