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When Google Assistant arrives in Chrome Browser, it will be a pivotal moment for voice as a whole. And it could be 2019.

by | Dec 18, 2018

A recent developer build of Chrome OS showed that Google Assistant is living inside of it.

For those devices running a hardware/software combination that doesn’t meet Google Assistant’s needs, it is simply elegantly deprecated from the UI, where the UI is the hardware itself and software interface. But a major modification to Google Assistant took place in the Chrome OS updates, Google Assistant moved from being powered by Android to being powered by native and web interfaces.

Let me say that again ‘web interfaces.’

Chrome OS was a safe environment for Google to operate in while they extended the Assistant from native apps and devices to an ‘all Google interfaces’ model.  With the shift from Android to Web interfaces, the day where Google Assistant is integrated into the Chrome Browser is on the horizon. Chrome OS only represents 1% of the total desktop OS market, hardly a pivotal move.

But Google is gaining market share in the voice/virtual assistant smart device world.  Digital Trends noted that in Q2 of 2017 total market share of shipped smart speakers by Amazon dropped from 44 to 41% (year over year almost dropped by 50%) while Google rose from 16% to 28%.

Amazon has been seeding the world with its low cost/no cost devices for years.  The Echo Dot was the highest selling item on Amazon this last Black Friday Weekend (again). Amazon has to do this, they aren’t embedded in peoples lives with hardware/software like Apple, Google and Microsoft.

They needed to infiltrate our physical lives in order to establish a stronghold.  It’s no surprise that Amazon announced a suite of utility based devices with Alexa built in, or invested heavily in a pre-fab home manufacturer to embed Alexa within.  They need a larger share of the “personal supply & delivery chain” (my words) in order to become indispensable in as many ways as possible to their consumers.

In response, Google needs to leverage the single largest advantage they have: owning the browser market.

As of Nov 2018, here is where Google stood:

  • All devices, average: 62%

  • Desktop: 72%

  • Tablet: 18%

  • Mobile: 53%

By integrating Google Assistant with Chrome Browser they begin to train 72% of the worlds desktop users, on what a voice assistant should be on their computer.  They infiltrate both Microsoft and Apple desktop/laptop devices where long-time physical behaviors have been established and hardened (keyboard’s, mice, external monitors – how we set up and use our devices is an extension of our own productivity).

Sidebar

 I have had a number of people ask me, ‘whats the different between Chrome voice search (the microphone in Chrome) and Google Assistant? The answer is simple.  The microphone in Chrome today is a transcription.  It takes your words, puts them in the search box and hits return.  Google Assistant is connected to AI and also has access to it’s Google Actions Directory, where highly curated content, context, function and experiences are being prioritized and influencing the Assistants response.

This means that instead of typing or dictating to Google ‘I’d like to pay my Chase bill’ and having the website for Chase appear on the page, we can say to Google Assistant “I’d like to pay my Chase Bill” and have Google Assistant leverage it’s own AI, Chase Bank’s Google Action and website to perhaps respond back after opening the website, authenticating the session with Chase and pulling up the three credit cards that have due dates in the next 15 days and say “OK Jason, which one would you like to pay?”

That seems helpful to me.

Is this UI baked? No.  Is it hard? Yes.  But it’s coming and the idea of creating custom Actions (Googles preferred action model) is the strongest way to influence the engagement of the consumer.

Back to the main line conversation

Will there be a learning curve with Google Assistant on Chrome Browser? Of course.  Some people will never adopt it at all.  But many people will and eventually more will than wont.

I believe Google Assistant in Chrome Browser could be the single largest precursor to an all Virtual Assistant world.  Once people are comfortable engaging with a virtual assistant in their browser, where a well-established user behavior (navigating the web) supplements a new one (conversing with your laptop), the idea of moving that new, combined behavior to other interfaces is nominal.

Talking to and seeing data, content, context on your TV isn’t much different than a browser window, is it? How about on your bathroom mirror? Backwall of a kitchen? How about the windshield of a self-driving car?

How will Amazon respond? I suspect their Microsoft Announcement, no matter how much of a naysayer one might be, could line up to bring Alexa directly to MSFT hardware at some point. But time will tell.

The market is speaking loudly about virtual assistants and voice experience: they like it and they are willing to adopt it.  So, the question is, what will be the tipping point to create unstoppable integration with our lives? I think it’s when the assistant shows its value in a program that 72% of us use every day.

Hell, there are some days I don’t need to leave the Chrome Browser at all, because everything I do is in a web interface.  Why wouldn’t I leverage an Assistant connected to that part of my work?

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