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Google Chirp to rival Amazon Echo

Thu 12 May 2016

Google Chirp

According to insiders, Google is working on a competitor to the Amazon Echo, the smart speaker that  has proved to be a sleeper hit for Amazon. The device, which will resemble an OnHub router, has not been officially named yet but is internally known as the Chirp.

It has long been suspected that Google was working on a voice-controlled speaker that could integrate with Nest, since Google acquired Nest two years ago. While the Chirp isn’t ready for release at next week’s Google I/O developer conference, it will most likely receive honorable mention, as the conference will highlight voice control, personal assistance, and virtual reality.

Google already has voice controlled personal assistant technology. The Google Now has been around longer than Siri or Cortana, since 2012, and all three have similar features. The Amazon Echo uses Alexa voice technology to work with smart home devices including Nest, and in addition to managing your thermostat and lights, the Echo can read the news or audio books, and can play you a song (through Spotify), order a pizza (from Domino’s), or get you a taxi (using Uber). The Echo has sold an estimated 3 million units since its release in late 2014; and while it is marketed as a virtual assistant for the home, it outpaced traditional speaker system sales in 2015, gaining over 25% of market share in that year and beating industry standard Bose and Logitech.

Amazon also recently released two new versions of the Echo speaker – the Echo Tap, which is mobile and connects via WiFi or mobile hotspot, and the Echo Dot, which can turn a traditional speaker into an Echo device.

Most importantly, the Echo may have boosted sales across Amazon site-wide. Slice Intelligence, a tracker of online purchases, estimated that owners of the Amazon Echo made three times as many purchases on Amazon than regular customers. Whether a loyal Amazon customer was more likely to buy an Echo, or if an Echo customer was more likely to use Amazon, remains to be seen. The Echo collects user data that Google could use across all its business: search engine, Android, Nest and more.

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