Search is about answering your question, but it always stops there. It never could actually finish the task. And Assistant is about getting things done.
Rishi Chandra, Vice President and General Manager, Home Products, Google
It’s been 18 months since Google launched the first Home speaker. What has the team learned so far from users? Anything that the team didn’t expect until customers started using Home?
A couple of things surprised me. One was the amount of time kids spent with the product. Kids of all ages actually think of it as a primary computing device. They don’t expect to type into Google, they expect to talk to Google. And a lot of questions that kids asked are questions we’d never have thought of, like “What’s your favorite color?”
The second piece we learned is that voice control is what makes the smart home take off. It’s hard to explain the value of a smart home with a phone, because the phone is a little cumbersome. But put a Google Home in there and anyone can use it – talk to it and tell it what to do. We didn’t anticipate how much engagement we’re going to get because of Home’s smart home capability.
Some people may say that Amazon’s goal with the Echo is to get more people to buy stuff on the Amazon store. Or Apple’s goal with HomePod is to showcase Apple Music. So what’s Google’s goal for Home?
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it accessible and useful. In our mind, Assistant is the next path of delivering that. Search is about answering your question, but it always stops there. It never could actually finish the task, and you always got to find something else – a program, a service, or what have you – to finish the task. And that’s what Assistant is trying to do: get things done. The home is the place you always try to get things done. And Google Home is our first set of products around that.
You’ve talked in the past about looking for daily use cases, use cases that will convince consumers that they need a product like Home. Have you found any?
Obviously, we’d like to get anything done for you, but that’s going to take time. So we try to focus on areas that we think we can deliver. So, for example, how do we make voice an easy way to get your entertainment, control your media, play your music, check your calendar? Voice control of smart devices is another example. Once you have an opportunity to talk to it, you are never going to go back. Everything else will feel like too much friction. These are the everyday use cases we found so far.
Google Home just launched in India, and it’s now in Singapore. But compared to India, we’ve a much smaller market. So why is Google bringing Home and opening a Google Store here?
Along with high broadband connectivity and tech-savvy consumers, Singapore is a great market for Google. The other thing is that it allows us to learn as we expand broader into Southeast Asia. Whether it’s about understanding different accents, different language support, different ways a product is being used, we think it’s a good reflection of the broader Southeast Asia market.
Tell us something interesting about yourself.
My daily driver is a Pixel and Chromebook. But my wife is an iPhone user. She does run all the Google apps on the iPhone, and she knows Pixel takes better pictures, but she just loves iMessage.
By Ng Chong Seng Photography Orland Punzalan