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Never Mind the Audio, Feel the Smart Home Interactivity!
At Google I/O last week, the company unveiled its response to Amazon Echo, Google Home, a compact wireless speaker with access to a range of music services including Google's own Play Music and GoogleCast, enabling multi-room audio. Android's Google Assistant and Google Now will provide far-field voice control for services interaction as well as smart home devices, including Nest, which Google bought for $3.2 billion in 2014. Home is another piece in the Google IoT ecosystem jigsaw, leveraging the huge share of Android in mobile devices, convergence with Chrome and the bridgehead of Nest and Open Thread. Google Home will be available later in 2016.
How things have changed since the advent of MP3, streaming music services, mobile devices and the wireless speaker revolution! In the good old HiFi days, customers would sit in studios listening to speakers from a range of vendors before making their choice, while more discerning audiophiles were happy to shell out up to $5,000 USD or more to get an extra quality edge. Today, connectivity and interactive features are competing for buyers with audio quality, bringing new end-to-end players like Amazon and Google into an already crowded field, even Apple is thought to be planning a SIRI-enabled wireless speaker product to expand its Home Kit ecosystem. Meanwhile, traditional audio brands are trying to drive HRA (High Resolution Audio) to boost consumer interest in quality and defend their space. Will new features or gimmicks make a serious dent in the market? Only time will tell.
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