Google virtual assistant set to be on one billion devices

At CES 2019, Google announced that its virtual assistant will be installed on one billion devices by the end of January, dwarfing Amazon's recent Alexa installation figures

8Jan

Ahead of its many product unveilings at this year's CES, Google revealed that its virtual assistant will be on one billion devices by the end of January, more than double the number of devices it was installed on this time last year. 

The claim came in the wake of Amazon's announcement this week that its Alexa voice assistant is now on more than 100 million devices. However, as Dave Limp, senior VP of devices and services at Amazon explained, every Alexa installation is an active choice whereas Google's virtual assistant is preinstalled on every Android-enabled device.

Nonetheless, a 900 million difference between Google's virtual assistant and Alexa, the second most popular virtual assistant, is a significant gap.

Google has not revealed many details regarding this latest statistic. However, with the increasing popularity of smart devices powered by Android, it is hard to know exactly how many users one billion devices translates to.

In an interview with The Verge, Google Assistant vice president Manuel Bronstein admitted "the largest footprint right now is on phones. On Android devices, we have a very, very large footprint".

Bronstein later added that Google is now looking to expand into emerging markets to carry on its growth. "There are large, large numbers of feature phones in the market today –hundreds of millions. ... But if you think about writing, reading and typing on those feature phones, it's not that simple. And the voice-first interaction is becoming increasingly important in those markets and we're beginning to see traction there.

"We're going to start talking more about that at Mobile World Congress, but definitely, there's a massive opportunity for voice interaction and assistive technology in those markets as well," he added.

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