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Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said he’s optimistic about the potential for Google Assistant, and the voice-activated Google Home speaker that it powers.
Pichai said the Assistant SDK released in April should bolster the number of devices developers can create that tap into the power of Google Assistant. He noted that there are now more than 70 home automation partners that let users control devices using Assistant on Google Home and phones — including Honeywell, Logitech, and LG.
And he said the company is investing in this area by beefing up the headcount and marketing dollars dedicated to these products.
“People are no longer only using a keyboard, mouse, and multi-touch, but are also using emerging inputs like voice and camera to ask questions and get things done in the real world,” he said during an earnings call with analysts on Monday. “We are seeing this in the way people interact with the Google Assistant, which is already now available on more than 100 million devices since launching last year, and there is more to come.”
Interestingly, Google last mentioned Assistant is available on 100 million Android devices in May. The fact the company didn’t update the figure suggests Home isn’t growing very quickly and neither is Assistant on iPhone, which arrived in May.
The market for virtual assistants has become hot over the last couple of years thanks to the success of Amazon’s Echo and Dot devices powered by Alexa. In a report released in May, eMarketer said 35.6 million Americans use a voice-activated assistant device as of April, up 128 percent from the previous year.
Alphabet and Amazon also face competition from Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri.
Google Assistant should get a further boost as Alphabet rolls out Google Home to more geographies. Besides the U.S., it’s now available in Canada, Australia, and the U.K. And in early August, it will go on sale in France and Germany.
“We are very focused over the long-term on making sure the Assistant can actually help people get things done in the real world,” Pichai said.
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