Google May Reimagine Its AI Hardware Retail Strategy: Report

Google is presently in the process of considering a major revision of its retail strategy for hardware powered by its flagship artificial intelligence service, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing people close to the tech giant. The move is said to be the latest step in the company's efforts to challenge Amazon's Alexa with its Google Assistant that's currently far behind its main rival in terms of smart speaker market share, according to some estimates. The Mountain View, California-based firm is said to be pondering a new online store that would sell Google Assistant-enabled hardware such as the Pixel smartphones and Home speakers, as well as a number of products from Nest, Alphabet's smart home subsidiary which has recently been committing more attention to integrating the AI helper of its sister company into its own hardware.

While the new online store still hasn't been greenlit, the idea that's now being considered is launching it as early as next month, insiders claim. Google is presently amid a major consumer electronics push that's centered around the Google Assistant, the most commercially viable manifestation of the company's AI-focused business strategy to date that permeates the majority of its contemporary offerings ranging from smartphones and speakers to gadgets like the Pixel Buds and Google Clips automated camera, as well as apps such as Google Photos and Gmail. Despite its undisputedly dominant presence in the Android ecosystem largely fueled by the fact most contemporary smartphones, tablets, and set-top boxes received Google Assistant support via over-the-air updates in the last 12 months, the Google Assistant only accounts for a around a quarter of the smart speaker segment in the United States, according to some industry trackers. The company is adamant to improve its performance in the audio equipment space not just to ensure a platform for long-term gains but as means of competing with Amazon that's still widely considered a better option for voice-enabled monetization by retailers. Though neither Google nor Amazon are currently recording significant profits with their AI efforts and are actually willingly losing money in some cases, the winner in the smart speaker segment is likely to reap much better returns on their digital assistant investment moving forward.

Google's latest push in the AI space came in the form of a major presence established at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, with the company financing ads for its Google Assistant-enabled products and services spanning the entirety of Las Vegas and not just the immediate vicinity of the fair. The tech giant may reveal more details on its AI efforts next month at the latest iteration of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

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Dominik Bosnjak

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Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]