Google has been positioning itself as moving from a mobile-first company (just as it has released its first smartphone) to an AI-first company. But artificial intelligence agents must still be accessed somewhere. Apple’s Siri has sprung from its birthplace on mobile phones to TV and now the Mac. Amazon’s Alexa has transcended the cylindrical Echo speaker and has begun showing up in third-party devices such as robots and supersized tablets.
But what of Google, the company that developed an AI so advanced it beat a world champion at Go? Its consumer AI has been developing more of a Siri-like personality and is now branded as Google Assistant. Google Assistant made its conversational debut in the Allo chat app, However, after that apps’ highly anticipated release, downloads have continued to fall off dramatically on its home turf of Android.
Google Play Downloads of Allo, Worldwide, 60 days trailing November 3rd, 2016. Source: Apptopia
Allo has run into the reality of a mature and crowded chat app market, not only with goliaths such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, but also with regionally strong players such as WeChat and LINE. Thus, getting Google Assistant into a more prominent user interface position has clearly been a part of the Google Pixel mission.
While Google remains in a highly favorable position to build out Assistant's usefulness via Android smartphones, embedding Google Assistant into a device like Home allows it to learn from different kinds of requests and from different kinds of users, for example, kids who may not have a smartphone. Early looks at Google Home -- with its air freshener-evoking design -- have given it high marks for an intelligence fueled by the company’s search dominance. But for Home to become a more adept chat buddy, it will have to extend far beyond the confines of Allo.