The idea of Google Home is futuristic and pretty great, but still very much cut and dry. In essence, it's meant to be a smart home hub that can power your IoT devices, communicate with just about every gadget you own, act as a speaker, take commands, and use Google's advanced artificial intelligence, machine learning and neural networking technologies to serve you in ways you may not think of. In essence, it's the ultimate form of Google Now, brought into your home and powered by Google's new Assistant. Google Home looks set to take the smart home control hub niche to a whole new level with the help of Google's advanced technologies. There are a few issues, however, and one is that we don't know much about Google Home just yet, and this makes it difficult to gauge consumer interest and how well it may compete in the marketplace.
There are a lot of important things about Google Home that are still unknown. For starters, as a speaker, how will it perform? For the purposes of this article, we'll be comparing Google Home to the Amazon Echo because, quite frankly, everybody else will do the same. There's no way around it; Amazon's Echo home hub is currently the leader and poster child for a fairly sparse market. If you ask enough people, you'll be sure to encounter at least a few who even think that the Echo is the only such product out there. Thus, Google Home will have to compete with the Echo to earn its place in the market. In order to be viable, it will need to be able to project sound throughout the home and boast extremely high quality audio for listening to media and doing things like making calls. On the flip side of that same token, we know nothing about how the microphones will be set up, which is a crucial element of such a product. The Amazon Echo, for example, boasts an array of advanced microphones that are arranged just so, allowing users to speak to the Echo unit when the house is noisy or when they're in another room or even another part of the house entirely, mostly through multiple directional microphones tuned to pick up human voices. If Google Home can't replicate this feat, it's basically already dead in the water, unless separate nodes for each room will be available on launch. These factors, of course, only affect the core audio experience; there are still a number of factors to consider that haven't been revealed yet.
Another big factor in Google Home's market performance will be the price. To compare it again to Amazon Echo, the poster child of the market, the price for a main unit is $200, with a somewhat scaled-back model running $99. While some assumptions could be made if we knew more about the hardware, we only have the roughest of rough ideas at the moment. Without knowing the price, we don't know if it will be able to appeal to consumers on the kind of scale needed to defeat the Echo and kickstart competition in the space. While pricing higher than the Echo would be acceptable with the right features, all we know about the feature set at the moment is that A.I. will be front and center. Another factor to consider is the release date and the market climate around that time. Right now, the release date for Google Home is unknown; not even any hints or leaks are present to help with predictions. While other products may hit the market, there's no telling if they'll be able to make a dent in the Echo's market share. If nothing else comes out and Amazon Echo stays on top, Google will have a bit of an issue; the longer they let the Echo stay at the top of the heap, the harder it will be to dethrone.
The last big factor to consider that we know nothing about is just how well the system works. Assistant was demonstrated at Google I/O, but has yet to see much, if any, real-life testing. Not only do we not know how well the predictive A.I. will work, we don't know how fast Google Home will react when a user gives it a command. This, however, is an area where at least one assumption can be made; thanks to Assistant and a focus on the A.I. and command-based software, it's safe to say that Google Home will do its job at least as well as Google Now on your smartphone. Go ahead, fire it up with OK Google and give it a random command. Search for something, play some music, or just try to make small talk to see how it reacts. Depending on your phone's hardware, the delay may be significant or less than a second. This is an older system than Assistant, running on hardware that was not custom-made for it, with less A.I. backing. If Google Home is tailored to Assistant, it'd be no shocker to see a command getting a reaction the instant a user stops talking. For now, however, we don't know for sure. All of these factors combine to make Google Home quite the enigma, for now. Predicting its performance, both in the market and at doing its job, is next to impossible for now.