Yesterday at Google’s hardware event, it introduced a number of new devices. Among them, the anticipated Pixel 3 and 3XL handsets, a new Chrome OS tablet and the new smart display called Home Hub. The new Home device joins the original Home, Home Mini and Home Max.
Home Hub beats Echo Show by $80. Home Hub is the first Home device with a (7-inch) screen and it will compete Echo Show, Facebook Portal and other Google Assistant powered smart displays. Home Hub has two factors strongly in its favor: the Google brand and the fact that it’s selling for $149, which is $80 cheaper than Echo Show second generation.
Echo Show has received mixed reviews. This device may compel Amazon to reduce prices on Show or quickly modify it to improve the overall experience. Home Hub also can show YouTube videos, which Show cannot — this has been a source of conflict between the two companies.
On price and functionality, Home Hub is poised to succeed and outsell all other smart displays, including those from Google partners such as Lenovo. Third parties making smart displays will have to target specific market segments or differentiate with enhanced features (e.g., sound) or content partnerships if they hope to succeed.
Apple has an opportunity to mount an iPad Mini on a speaker and make it app friendly and compete in this segment. We’ll see if it chooses to do so.
Why it matters to marketers. While more than 50 million smart speakers have been sold in the US, they have so far disappointed as a marketing tool. However, screen-based devices offer an expanded user experience that offers more opportunities for branding and commerce compared with voice-only devices.
Accordingly, if smart displays see widespread adoption, then these stand-alone devices could become an important new channel for brands, retailers and marketers more generally. Google will monetize the device eventually but only after considerable adoption and user feedback.
Finally, taking a page from the Apple playbook, Google’s Home Hub plays into a broader Google hardware and software ecosystem strategy. Each device reinforces usage of other devices.
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