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Amazon, Google, and Apple are going to great lengths to boost the functionality of their AI assistants while introducing new smart devices aimed at revolutionizing the consumer experience at home. Over the past few weeks, Amazon has launched Echo Show and Echo Look, Google has introduced several enhancements for Google Home, and Apple has (finally) entered into the smart speaker space. The battle for smart home supremacy is heating up, placing AI at the center.

However, there are important differences between the strategies of Google, Amazon, and Apple – with each trying to play to its own strengths. Amazon and Google have added new visual interfaces to expand the use cases of AI at home – Amazon through the introduction of new devices into the home to facilitate visual responses to specific queries, and Google by leveraging its existing Android ecosystem, sending visual information such as map directions and calendar itineraries to the user's Android phone, tablet, or TV via Chromecast. Apple, on the other hand, took a different approach by propelling its premium hardware strategy, focusing more on delivering a superior sound quality experience for Siri.

All these recent market initiatives revolve around the need to make AI assistants more useful and omnipresent in the user’s everyday life. The AI assistant market is in its early days, however, meaning that AI assistants are still far from perfection, leading to consumer frustration and basic lack of confidence in the technology. Market participants are responding by getting down to work, accelerating the pace of product enhancements and improvements in functionality.

The surrounding ecosystem is becoming a key element of the evangelization process, making partners and developers crucial to the success of AI assistants at home. Once again, each vendor is trying to leverage the role of the ecosystem in its own way. Amazon and Google are keen on promoting a more open approach, welcoming anyone willing to integrate voice capabilities into their smart home devices and/or develop skills for service delivery. This market strategy has rapidly enlarged their respective ecosystems, helping them generate awareness and educate consumers on the virtues of AI assistants at home. Apple, on the contrary, has chosen a more selective market approach for the development of its ecosystem as a way to keep security and quality of experience under control, as well as pushing its own brand of services, of course.

Ovum believes the frequency of enhancements will continue accelerating, requiring vendors and service providers to multiply the number of use cases and send out more compelling messages to attract new potential customers. For existing customers, the new product features are expected to bring higher satisfaction levels and stickiness.

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