Research shows that Google Assistant users do much more than Amazon Alexa users. GadgetGuy has both types set up as testbeds, and we set out to find out why.
Note: In part our research used the search statement ‘Google Assistant users do much more than Amazon Alexa’ AND vice versa. It focuses on the past 12 months. Where possible we use Australian results.
First, some voice sales
The US voice assistant market had about 17% household market
penetration in 2018. Australia has about 5%, but
we were late starters.
In the US Amazon Alexa Echo speakers were first to market in
late 2014 – virtually creating the voice control market – and took a commanding
lead with 66.6% of sales in 2018.
Google Assistant came to market in mid-2017, but the tide is quickly turning towards it.
eMarket analysts state that Amazon’s US share will continue to shrink while its rivals will grow and overtake it by 2020. Particularly as Google Assistant support increases with brands like Sonos, LG, Panasonic, Bose, Sony, Lenovo, and Google’s hardware.
Analyst Jaimie Chung said
“Alexa only remains relevant by plugging it into the Amazon ecosystem. But third-parties like Sonos, LG, Bose, JBL and more bringing Google Assistant to its devices will change the balance in the voice assistant race.”
Amazon Alexa speakers
have greater US market share because Amazon is an accepted shopping source. Not
so in Australia. Why?
While there is also a good recognition of the name Amazon in the US (23rd in the Forbes RepTrack Index), Google rates well ahead at in third place. Millennials rank Google number one on that index. As the Amazon empire becomes more visible and the issues play out with the CEO’S messy divorce and some strategic airing of ‘dirty washing’ (trust issues), it is fast slipping in the ‘RepTrack’.
Voicebot AI states that in July 2018, in Australia, Google Assistant was outselling Alexa at least three-to-one. Similarly, in Canada, Google Assistant is outselling Alexa two-to-one. Our retail spies confirm that over the 2018 Christmas period, hardly any Alexa sold at retail – they can’t comment on Amazon direct sales.
The reverse in
Australia is because Amazon is not a household name here.
According to Neto Australia,
an e-commerce platform that services Australian sellers on both Amazon and eBay.
About 10% of Australians regularly use Amazon, but 63% regularly use eBay.
eBay is Australia’s 4th most visited website, well above Pornhub, Xvideos, Wikipedia and News.com.au. The most visited sites are Google (search), Facebook and YouTube.
eBay Australia receives about 63 million visits a month (12M unique shoppers) compared to Amazon at 10 million visits (unique visitors are unknown).
More monthly traffic goes to eBay than the next seven e-commerce sites combined (JB Hi-Fi, Kogan, Harvey Norman, Myer, David Jones, Etsy and Amazon).
eBay is the number one downloaded e-commerce app on iTunes and Google Play.
80 of Australia’s top 100 bricks and mortar retailers have an eBay shop, and there are more than 40,000 other Aussie owned stores on the platform.
eBay has the added credibility of PayPal and delivery/service/money-back guarantees.
We make the point that the US knows Amazon – not so much
here and that may partially account for lack of
take up of Amazon Alexa speakers.
What do people do
with a voice assistant? (eMarket US
80% listen to audio
73% make inquiries like weather, news etc
35% control smart home devices (lights,
thermostat or motion/video detection)
3% do online shopping (or at least research for
Kantar Worldpanel US findings
Kantar Worldpanel is a global group of users and measures both
intent and uses on a broad range of
subjects. The US voice assistant panel comprises 20,000 users.
Use (in percent)
Order take-out food
Ask for recipes
Create shopping list
Check the weather
Check your diary
Ask general knowledge questions
Check travel info
Make voice calls
Listen to more music than before
Switch from free to paid music
Now regard voice assistance as a must-have prerequisite for any new tech
Use a smartphone less
Use a PC less
Shop (for clothes etc)
Kantar says Google users receive the most benefit and embrace more changes. Why?
It appears to come down to more people trusting Google Assistant
It comes with Android phones (currently 87% global market share or over 2 billion active devices)
Google claims more than 1 billion active Assistant users in 28 languages and 80 countries. Amazon has around 100 million devices. Siri has 500 million
Just ‘Google it’ (search) has become ‘muscle memory’
It is not tied to any shopping ecosystem of goods or services (one could argue that paid AdWords may influence results)
Google Search use is on a vastly larger scale (than Bing), so it has learnt more.
Google Assistant answers,
especially to imprecise or conversational questions are very good.
A recent test by Loup Ventures (second year in a row) asking both Google Assistant and Alexa 800 questions resulted in a 100% answer rate and 87.9% correct on Google. Alexa answered 99% with 72.5% accuracy. In the first year, it has an answer rate of 88/73% respectively.
Loup Ventures shows the inherent bias/pedigree with this question, “How much would a manicure cost?”
Alexa: “The top search result for a manicure is Beurer Electric Manicure & Pedicure Kit. It’s $59
on Amazon. Want to buy it?
Google Assistant: “On average, a basic manicure will cost
you about $20. However, special types of manicures like acrylic, gel, shellac,
and no-chip range from about $20 to $50 in price, depending on the salon.”
Google’s accuracy is higher because it takes into account your location, past search history, social media engagement and other relevant factors when serving you a result. Yes, the more it knows about you so it can tailor results.
Google Assistant for shopping requires no ‘Prime’ subscription. When a user asks a product-based voice query to Google Assistant, Google Express presents its recommended products based on the query using the Shopping Actions platform. For smaller retailers, attracting shoppers through Google is a viable option.
Users report a high satisfaction level and that there are very
few “Sorry I don’t know that, but I am always learning.”
Alexa answers are
getting better, but it has more limited
Alexa started as a voice portal for Amazon goods and
services. It has more limited horizons – Amazon,
Bing search and Wikipedia are its main data sources.
Amazon, Microsoft and Apple are trillion-dollar tech companies.
BTW Alphabet, Facebook and Netflix are not far behind either. Interestingly these
all have one thing in common – their services all use AI and machine learning.
Amazon started in 1994 as a cloud computing service (Amazon Web Services). It built an empire based on the online delivery of goods and services. Underpinning it is a very sophisticated AI analytics system to generate demand for its products and an e-commerce fulfilment system to deliver them.
It took just ten years for it to overtake Walmart – the US’s
largest bricks and mortar retailer.
Understandably Alexa first draws on Amazon expertise, goods
and services for an answer.
According to Alphametric, “When processing a voice search query, Amazon will prioritise whichever goods or service that are Amazon’s ‘choice’. These products use several criteria, including popularity, competitive pricing, low return rate, availability to ship quickly, sold by Amazon itself (not a merchant), and they must be Prime members. Amazon is moving from an e-commerce platform to a serious competitor for its merchants, reported in ITy Bytes on 22 March.
Alphametric says that this inherent bias (and that is Amazon’s
prerogative with Alexa) means it is selling goods and services that make it the
most return, not those that may be best for the user.
It finishes, “To shop using voice search on Alexa, users
need an Alexa-enable device, an Amazon Prime membership, and the desire to shop
from an arbitrarily limited selection of items.”
That leads to distrust.
What does Amazon
Amazon.com and Amazon Prime membership for
Prime Music and Music Unlimited (and variants)
Prime Video (and variants)
Amazon Studios (creates video content)
Amazon App store (for its Amazon devices)
Kindle and Kindle eBook store
Goodreads and Shelfari – user’s recommendations
for Amazon Books
Audible – spoken entertainment
Alexa – voice recognition, shopping and
Fire TV devices – casting video content to a TV
Echo speakers and devices
Digital Games Store
Twitch live streaming games platform
Amazon Web Services
ComiXology – digital comics platform
Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market
Amazon search and reviews
many more enterprises in over 130 countries
Alexa uses skills – apps to do something. For example, to turn the lights off in the lounge you say, Hey Alexa, ask Philips Hue to turn the lights off in the lounge.”
Alexa claims 50,000+ skills including those for 20,000 smart devices and about 3,500 brands (e.g. banks, shops etc). It even has a Windows skill to supplant Cortana. A ‘skill’ uses the Alexa Smart Home API – not necessarily any hardware.
Business and finance related queries, e.g. if your bank (NAB and Westpac) has a skill, it can give you balances etc
Connected car – Order Uber etc
Education and reference
Food and Drink – order Uber Eats, Domino’s Pizza or make a booking on The Fork (painful!!!)
Games, Trivia and accessories – Sports facts
Health and Fitness
Lifestyle – control smart home devices generally using a third-party smart hub
Skills range from useful to banal. For example, there is a
guard dog skill that makes the speaker bark. The only problem is that I could
not get it to stop barking!
Many skills are more about promoting the brand/product than being useful. According to Deloitte the sole purpose of a skill is to gain mind space, so you remember it when you purchase. “Skills are more brand name heavy and focused around asking for [a specific] brand than really useful.”
Google Home Actions
Google seems to require devices to be designed for Google Home, and that usually involves including a specific piece of silicon (chip). For example, the Philips Hue bridge is Google Home enabled allowing the far simpler command, “OK Google turn the lounge lights off” (as it knows what the lounge lights are).
It is true – Google Assistant users do much more than Amazon Alexa
We have a full test suite of both Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Both are competent voice assistants. What is clear is that Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa have overtaken Cortana, Bixby, ThinQ and other voice assistant challengers.
Twelve months ago, Alexa was ahead on points but what a difference a year makes. The use cases for voice assistants continues to explode, and almost every new tech device supports them both. We are going on the voice control journey whether we like it or not.
And as time progresses
all voice assistants will have to develop the same levels of linguistic
competence or fall by the wayside. At present Google’s continued conversation
mode and vastly wider language support puts
it in front.
What will accelerate one over another is to find an exclusive, must-have, action or purpose.
For example, in the Apple world, you only have one choice. I suspect that in the Android world tighter integration with Google Maps, Translate, Lens etc., will make Google Assistant the one choice.
If you accept the stats,
Google Assistant is fast narrowing the gap in Alexa’s US homeland and is well ahead
in the rest of the world.
Without fear or favour, I have had a greater level of success in using Google Home products over Alexa
skills products. With the former, it just
I think it will come down to Android users will favour Google Assistant as it is part of their environment. Just as Apple users will favour Siri, inveterate shoppers will favour Alexa, and perhaps that portends the best answer. In the interim – fact: Google Assistant users do much more than Amazon Alexa.
Google Assistant users do much more than Amazon Alexa