This was posted on TechCrunch two weeks ago but I missed it over the Christmas holidays. The title is typical hyperbole, but whilst the article doesn’t say much that’s new it does raise a couple of interesting points about Google and Digital Assistants. There is mention of opening Google Now to outside developers, but that raises many issues such as how to build understanding of app-specific language, or how to open-up the creation of rich, pro-active assistance into any app. Also how will Google arbitrate between two or more competing apps? Maybe the answer here is obvious – it creates a new market for Google to charge for ‘sponsored app access’, same as they do with search on the web.
That raises further concerns: Google are creating a platform that could control access to all apps, and that puts them in a very powerful position (what?…You could still access the app using an icon? How quaint – only of there’s a graphical interface – with something like Google Glass that’s not an option). Also, for many medium and large business this will create significant overhead as they would need to develop for Google and Apple Digital Assistants (while these two remain the dominant mobile OS owners). And what about cross-channel integration with web, phone, live chat, TV, cars, wearables etc? That would only be possible if Google moved into all these markets or created a standalone SDK, which is very unlikely).
Google have bought very effective competition into the world of Digital Assistants, and created some amazing user experiences (have you tried the voice search in their mobile app – really good), but there is a great deal of room for competition and innovation in this field.