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Microsoft trying to compete with Amazon Alexa and Google Home

Microsoft trying to compete with Amazon Alexa and Google Home

Invoke

Microsoft is entering the voice assistant market by combining Harman Kardon speaker with the Cortana engine and calling it Invoke. Microsoft has confirmed the release of their Invoke series this fall 2017. No pricing has been published yet, but it is expected that Microsoft will announce pricing or the price range at the Microsoft Build conference.

Being this late to the party, Microsoft can claim targeting the home automation market. The reality is, that Microsoft is roughly 2.5 years behind and even Google Home is still trying to catch up by embedding more and more home automation skills/integration points.

 

In a nutshell Invoke is copying Amazon Alexa and Google Home with some additional features to set this new device apart from their competitors.

  1. Skype voice calling
  2. The speaker has 3 tweeters (Harman quality)
  3. The device has 7 array microphones

 

Microsoft’s investment in their engine Cortana has not provided the return on investment (ROI) yet. Their cell phone release didn’t work as expected and embedding Cortana in Windows 10 did not deliver any of the expected results. Now Cortana has to live in the Invoke speaker device.

Microsoft didn’t announce any partners yet, but they are probably planning on releasing the Cortana API to the public for more partners to integrate with Invoke.

We will soon see, how fast Microsoft will be adding home automation and other skills to their portfolio trying to compete with Amazon and Google. One interesting move from Microsoft is their bot framework allowing developers to copy over Amazon Alexa Skills.

GoogleHome

GoogleHome

Google finally revealed more details around their Google Home assistant product on Oct 4th 2016. They also allow now pre-orders to be placed for their official release date of Nov 4th 2016.

Google is now entering the Voice control market, after they announced earlier this year working on an “Alexa like product but much better”. At the Oct 4th 2016 Google event, where Google announced a variety of new products and product refreshes, they provided a detailed insight into the new Google Home product line.

Let’s go over their major features and functions announced for Google Home. The appearance is the first item Google addressed by offering a variety of textures and colors to chose from. Amazon Echo is also available in white now and so will be the Echo Dots, when they are released October/E 2016.

Here is a video from Google demonstrating some use cases for Google Home.  Check it out.

A very important part of any voice assistant product line is their interoperability with “smart devices”. Alexa from Amazon has a huge head start, but Google is now starting and investing heavily in this area as well. Here is a comparison chart between Google Home and Amazon Alexa.

Far-Field Speaker comparison

Comparing the two systems

The Google Home Speaker seems impressive around all corners and in all directions. Once the product is released more detailed sound comparisons can be conducted.

The Alexa Speaker has proven to be quite impressive in terms of sound quality and base waves. Given the size of that product, the sound it produces is quite excellent.

In summary:

Google is releasing a major competitor to Amazon’s Echo Alexa family. It lacks in some areas, while it has an advantage in other areas. In the end the ease of use, the integration and interoperability options will drive customer adoption. In either way, competition in the market place is always good because it benefits the end consumer… us!

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This blog and tweets represent my own view points and not of my employer, Amazon Web Services.

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