When Google surprised everyone with their Google Home device at their developer conference in May, it was clear that the gloves were off and challengers were lining up to take on Siri that had been drifting for the longest time with little progress. Patently Apple wondered aloud a week after Google's developer conference in a report titled "Will Apple Introduce a Competing Home-Styled Siri Led Device at WWDC 2016?." The very next day Walt Mossberg wondered the same thing but was skeptical that Apple would actually pull it off. On June 13, during Apple's WWDC keynote, Eddie Cue reviewed the changes coming to Apple TV this fall and yes, Siri was going to take on an expanded role by being able to include home automation which fulfilled a number of Apple's patent-pending inventions. Then earlier today we posted a new report titled "Comcast is taking their New Digital Assistant to the Rio Games that will Rival Siri and Alexa (from Amazon). With so much activity occurring in the area of digital assistants, the timing of a new Gartner report on this subject couldn't have been any better.
According to Gartner's latest report, "Consumers will increasingly use digital personal assistants to interact with consumer services in the connected home" and "predicts that, by 2019, in at least 25 percent of households in developed economies, the digital assistants on smartphones and other devices will serve as the primary interface to connected home services."
Mark O'Neill, research director at Gartner noted for this report that "In the not-too-distant future, users will no longer have to contend with multiple apps; instead, they will literally talk to digital personal assistants such as Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant. Some of these personal assistants are cloud-based and already beginning to leverage smart machine technology."
Digital personal assistants show the potential to satisfy wants and needs by delivering experiences that connect services, configure devices and even order and deliver products. Personalized, context-aware information can also be presented as it is wanted or needed — for example, suggestions for restaurants near planned meetings, or recommended temperature settings for the home to optimize energy consumption and comfort in line with the weather.
O'Neill added that "Consumers don't want to deal with separate proprietary apps for each type of connected device in their home. Rather than individual apps, it is the interactions between devices — as well as with service providers and external data sources — that are most compelling to consumers. These interactions make it possible to create, detect and respond to 'business moments,' which Gartner defines as transient opportunities that are exploited dynamically using digital technology."
As we move into a post-app world, where devices and services from multiple sources can be blended together for access via digital personal assistants, application programming interfaces (APIs) are the key to this integration. As more providers and devices become available, different ecosystems will form around each large tech provider as they recruit allies, build partnerships and attract developers in the quest for leadership in the connected home. This change will enable individual industries to use the connected home as a new business channel for their services.
For example, insurance companies may provide guidance in the context of weather and thermostat information and banks could use voice interfaces to help customers manage their finances and pay their bills.
Mr. O'Neill lastly noted that "APIs are the key to interoperating with new digital interfaces and a well-managed API program is a key success factor for organizations that are interested in reaching consumers in their connected homes. In the emerging programmable home, it is no longer best to spend time and money on developing individual apps. Instead, divert resources to APIs, which are the way to embrace the postapp world."
So the race is on for tech companies to dominate our living rooms with digital assistants for TV and the home in general with a new dimension aimed at home automation services. With Apple's shrinking market share, will they be able to compete with larger players like Google? Yes of course. If the Future of TV are apps, then Apple's App Store crushes Google Play in terms of profits for Apple and their developers.
But that doesn't mean that Apple has much breathing room with Google, Amazon, Microsoft and now Comcast quickly catching up to Apple and in a way surpassing them with Digital Assistant devices that aren't limited to a single device like Apple TV.
The good news is that Apple has some incredible technology it acquired with Vocal IQ and Apple is likely to add at least another device for the home closer to Google Home and Amazon's Echo. So competiton in this area is good for all of us as each company will continue to advance these devices over the next three years. I can't wait to see what Apple will come up with next.
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