Google working on Amazon Echo competitor

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According to sources cited by Recode, Google is working on an Amazon Echo type device code named ‘Chirp’.

The Internet is currently in what I term the “Mobile” stage. In just 30 year’s we passed the desktop stage. The laptop stage which promised to untether us from our desks came and went. In reality laptops didn’t offer the freedom they promised due to limited battery life and lack of WiFi.

We’re now living in a golden age of Internet access where mobile smartphones and tablets really do let us connect almost anywhere, but these devices are still relatively inconvenient compared to the future.

Screenless devices

The next Internet age which is just starting will see ever more devices without screens waiting to serve us. We already have wearables such as FitBits which monitor our health but the first real screenless internet device capable of responding to human commands is Alexa, the persona inside Amazon Echo.

Always on, always listening and ready to respond, Alexa is a firm favourite with everyone I’ve spoken to who owns an Amazon Echo, currently still only available in the States.

Google Chirp

Google OnHub Chirp like deviceBack at the Internet Retailing Expo, I confidently predicted that companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft and Sony (with their xBoxes and Playstations) would soon be building Amazon Echo type devices. Now it appears that Google may be 2nd to market following Amazon.

Google already enable control of Android devices with the “Ok Google” command, but it’s not an entirely polished experience. “Ok Google, check my email” opens the Android mail app, but it defaults to checking my primary email account, not my combined inbox. I’ve not figured out how to fix this, but on a screenless device I don’t want to so Google ‘Chirp’ will have to be better than ‘Ok Google’.

Obviously Google have search all wrapped up, but what about shopping? Will Google prefer Google Trusted Shops and Google Wallet, or will they have apps to search eBay, Amazon and other marketplaces.

Google’s version of Amazon Echo will be very interesting, not least because it’s second to market so needs to be better than Amazon. For retailers it all comes down to how easy it is to order products with screenless devices and that will be the next big change in how we use the Internet of tomorrow.


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