Alexa vs Google

by Shadab Farooqui

Can Alexa replace Google? Lets see..

In 2016, commerce/transactional searches are 'transaction-enabled' via vertical apps and services.  As people move towards using apps that in addition to providing the information queried, enable the related transaction.

Ex: Amazon helps you research *and* buy the product. Yelp helps you *research* and make a reservation or delivery from/at a restaurant. These are transactional searches -- which have verticalized over time across platforms and mediums.

Echo is a medium (voice) and a platform (SDK) similar to iPhone and iOS. Has iPhone replaced the computer for certain tasks? Yes. Can it replace the computer entirely? Possibly. However, the developer ecosystem is as important as the medium itself. iPhone would be nothing without the developer ecosystem. Same principle applies to Echo. How much can Echo hurt Google really depends on Echo's scale -- # people using it, and its developer ecosystem (integrations with other platforms such as Yelp etc).

Yes, "Voice" or AI category is definitely a threat -- but not just because Echo or other similar voice digital assistants can perform a search. It's because they can transact without you having to touch anything.  

Can Echo replace all search in the future? Yes. Is voice going to be the medium in which one consumes all searches or content? No. Is voice going to be the medium in which one consumers specific categories of information? Yes

For Example: Prime members such as myself often use Amazon as the starting place to shop, skipping Google altogether. This hurts Google's traffic for that highly valuable specific segment of "in-market" consumers doing "product search". 

Behaviorally, its the instant gratification generation. We seek instant 'end-results', not just queries. Thats where Echo makes a difference -- it gets instant results for your voice commands. Same query using Siri or any other assistant from your phone would be a "4-thought" process.

  1. Putting your hand in your pocket or wherever the phone is placed
  2. Removing phone on your pocket
  3. Unlock or Keep home button pressed
  4. Speak the query - and get results. 

Echo's one-step experience is convenient and natural, which makes it addictive and could seriously impact Google by enabling range of "tasks" or "queries" Echo can perform. I'd bet anything that Google will launch its own product to compete with Echo. There's no other way to hedge the risk of Echo.