Google Assistant saw its arsenal of Actions grow two and a half times over the past year to a whopping 4,253 in the United States, but it’s still far behind Amazon’s competing Alexa ecosystem, sitting pretty at 56,750 Skills as of the end of 2018.
Despite the vast gulf in the sheer amount of available actions, there is one interesting detail that sits in Google’s favor; Assistant actually had higher growth than Alexa, which rose 2.2 times in the same period.
The research that came up with these numbers revealed that different categories of Skills and Actions can be both a bane and a boon to consumers looking to sort through the clutter thanks to the presence of duplicate entries. Assistant, for example, had 7,596 listed skills, 44-percent of which were duplicates listed across multiple categories.
While the separation of Actions into categories does confuse the results just a bit, cutting through the clutter to get the real numbers is far from impossible, and that’s exactly what’s been done here. Doing that revealed that the number of duplicate entries is not only quite a large portion of the total number of Actions available, but also a great number of those duplicate actions are posted across multiple categories. Some Actions were reportedly posted across as many as six categories, in order to appear to as many potential users as possible.
Among those categories, most skills fell into education and reference. Weather, a very common use case for smart speakers, was actually at the bottom of the rankings. Games and Fun, Kids and Family, News and Magazines, and Home Control rounded out the top five. These rankings go to show that there is a bit of a dichotomy between what developers are putting out in the smart speaker ecosystem and what consumers are actually using their smart speakers for.
The thunderous growth pattern seen in the past year is actually the result of a snowballing trend of sorts. According to Voicebot’s findings, Action growth was slow back at the beginning of 2017, but quickly sped up and skyrocketed well into fivefold and sixfold territory by year’s end. Like compounding interest, the next year grew on the previous growth, and so on, leading us to where we are now.
It’s worth mentioning that Google took a bit longer to open its Assistant ecosystem up to developers, giving Amazon a brief edge in the market that helped it pull ahead in initial consumer and developer mindset. Assistant’s repertoire of Actions is seeing steady growth that could help attract more users, especially as Google doubles down on its efforts to get more consumers into Pixel and Chrome OS devices, which would naturally tie in better with a Google Home than an Amazon Echo.
What’s noted here is cause for optimism. While Google does have a penchant for making odd marketing and developmental choices, Assistant is quite immune to that tendency in its current form. At this point, the ecosystem’s fate lies mostly in third-party marketing, such as in-store displays, and of course, in the hands of developers. If this growth trend continues, Google Assistant will have no real issue doing almost anything Amazon Alexa can do, if not more.