Google pulled off something few companies have managed recently – releasing something unexpected. While their new smartphones were expected, they added a bunch of stuff few people saw coming.
Google is playing a very Apple-like game. Although the company preaches openness, what we saw today was a “half-open” approach. The hardware, software and services tack Google has revealed puts them in competition with Apple, and I think even more, Amazon.
The Google Assistant ties the Google Home Mini and Google Home Max, new Pixel phone, new Pixelbook and Pixelbook Pen, and Pixel Buds together.
Separately, all of these products would be nice, but I think evolutionary, updates on products already on the market. But with the Assistant, we get a vision of Google’s big play. It’s not dissimilar to what Amazon and Apple are doing. It’s a battle to be at the centre of your entire life. When you want a product, Google wants to be there to help you get it. Whenever you want to know something, Google will be there to answer your questions. Want a movie or TV show to watch? Ask one of the many new Google devices and your thirst will be quenched.
If you’re a retailer, the importance of playing nicely with Google’s ecosystem is critical. Just as it is if you want to to thrive in the emerging retail world where gratification needs to be near instant you’ll need to be getting your systems and processes in order to be ready to compete with and participate in Amazon’s marketplace. Now, you’ll need to ensure your systems play nicely with Google’s ecosystem as well.
The back marker in this is Apple. Without a strong retail presence, other than in media – and that’s being crunched by Netflix, Spotify and other on demand services – Apple could find themselves as little more than the maker of nice hardware and software that’s used to make other companies rich.
For individuals, we’ll see AI used more and more to help us manage the mundane. Just as the ability to see free time in someone’s schedule remotely changed the nature of setting up business meetings (who’s old enough to remember paper diaries and 20 phone calls to set a meeting time?) we’ll see AI take over menial tasks. We already have software that reads our email and adds items to schedules, addresses to contact lists and other every day functions. Google’s software and services play, as shown through their hardware, will continue to change some of the very small tasks we rely on each day.
Once you scrape away the hype around the new hardware, what we are left with is a company committed to embedding itself in everything we do.
And businesses that aren’t plugged into that reality could be left behind – like so many Gerry Harveys shaking their fists at the clouds telling them to get off his lawn.