Narrative: Amazon is Ahead in Voice

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    Narrative: Amazon is Ahead in Voice (Dec 27, 2016)

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    Samsung Bixby Reviews Suggest Assistant Still Needs a Lot of Work (Jun 22, 2017)

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    Amazon Provides Partial Fix for Alexa Voice Calling Privacy Issue (Jun 13, 2017)

    One of Amazon’s big missteps with its launch of calling and messaging features through its Alexa assistant was the assumption that its users would be happy to receive calls and messages from anyone who had their number, without the ability to block or screen those contacts first. It’s now issued a partial fix, which allows users to block others from calling or messaging them, but still doesn’t appear to have moved to a double-opt-in model under which a user would have to accept someone’s request to connect first before communication can occur. That means it still opens users up to calls and messages from exes and others in way many won’t be comfortable with. That’s how this should have worked from the beginning and the model Amazon should be adopting now.

    via GeekWire

    ★ Apple Announces HomePod Home Audio System with Siri (Jun 5, 2017)

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    Amazon Adds Reminders and Named Timers to Alexa (Jun 2, 2017)

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    ★ Apple Starts Manufacturing Its Siri Speaker (May 31, 2017)

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    Google Execs Say Assistant Will Monetize Through E-Commerce and Ads (May 24, 2017)

    Though the original headline on this piece focuses on the e-commerce aspect, the actual content of the article makes clear that Google has every intention of serving up ads too. Google launched Shopping on Home a while back, so hearing that Google intends to monetize through e-commerce isn’t a huge surprise, but it’s interesting to hear confirmation from Google that this is its main focus, because though this is obviously a strength and a motivator for Amazon in this space, it clearly isn’t Google’s main focus. However, as I said, advertising is clearly a big part of that picture too, and it sounds like ads will mostly be served up as they are in other Google search products: alongside organic results when people are looking for something specific. The big question, then, is how that’s done – the first screen of classic Google search results has now been taken over by ads, something that only takes a scroll to get past, but that same experience on a voice device that majors on providing a single answer won’t fly. Linear interfaces like voice assistants can’t take up users’ time with ads before they get to the organic results. So despite these comments, there’s still lots we don’t know about how Google is going to make additional money from Home. And then there’s the point I made previously about the fact that charging real money for a device like this breaks the usual implied contract of free services coming with ads – users won’t have the same expectation of an ad-supported business model on a device like Home that they do with a free online service.

    via Recode

    Dish Allows Alexa Voice Control of Set Top Boxes (May 22, 2017)

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    ★ Google Makes Assistant and Home Announcements at I/O (May 17, 2017)

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    Amazon Starts Issuing Payments to Some Alexa Skills Developers (May 16, 2017)

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