KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said back in October that he expected it to take everyone else around two and a half years to catch up to Apple’s Face ID with their own facial recognition systems, and now that appears to have been further backed up by a report by Reuters, which cites three major parts producers who believe that it will take at least two years as of right now.
Apple keeps ordering TV shows but hasn’t said yet what it will do with them. Whatever the company’s plans are, Cupertino will face heavy competition. All the big networks are expected to launch their own for-pay streaming video services soon. Netflix may dominate this market right now, but Amazon is coming on strong. HBO and […]
Google’s 2017 Android Security report is out, and alongside it, the company’s head of Android security David Kleidermacher has claimed that Android is now “as safe as the competition” despite high profile security issues that have dogged the platform for years, including the past 12 months.
Google’s head of Android security David Kleidermacher claimed in an interview that "Android is now as safe as the competition" on the release of the company’s 2017 Android Security report, which seeks to reassure users that it is doing everything it can to protect them from malware and exploits. The problem is that Google can’t secure the 2 billion Androids it claims as its platform. AppleInsider – Frontpage News
Earlier this year, T-Mobile came out on top in an OpenSignal report on U.S. mobile networks, but Verizon wasn’t far behind in second. Now OpenSignal has decided to take a closer look the competition. In the latest OpenSignal report, T-Mobile and Verizon duked it out for 4G LTE availability and speeds. T-Mo managed to beat or tie Verizon when it comes to 4G speed in all five regions of the U.S. — the West, the Southwest, … [read full article]
We’re nearing the end of the beginning for the battle among virtual assistants in the U.S. With the launch of the HomePod, Apple joins Google, Amazon, and Microsoft in having a smart speaker available at all times to answer queries and perform actions. But the market for intelligent virtual assistants is far more complex than just determining who has the best hardware and software.
All of the market players hold specific advantages that their competitors don’t, and they’re each racing to build up their positions. Amazon leads penetration in the smart speaker market, but Alexa’s mobile presence is minimal. Siri’s software lags behind its competition, but Apple has the corner on embedded virtual assistants in its hardware. Google has the planet’s most popular search engine, which drives the assistant’s ability to answer questions better than its peers.
Understanding the different facets of defensibility at play is important for getting a sense of where the virtual assistant market is today and where it’s going in the future.
The winners in the virtual assistant market will control a significant portal for access to information. As the search engine, browser, and mobile markets have shown, owning the platform for people to access information is a massive source of power.
But nobody has the market locked down yet, even as dominant as some players may appear. Right now, no one company has managed to create the ideal assistant: one that has a deep understanding of you, is deeply integrated everywhere you are, and can answer almost any question you might have.
Above: The new Amazon Echo
Image Credit: Amazon
That open competitive landscape is why companies are looking to build the defensibility of their virtual assistants. I’ve identified three axes for that competition: technology development, network effects, and embedding effects.
Technology development is arguably the easiest to identify: Each player is consistently improving the core AI functionality that makes their assistant tick by helping it better understand speech and translate that into action. The same thing goes for hardware — advancements in microphones and speaker technology, along with the processing power needed to answer queries rapidly, add up to a better experience that attracts consumers.
But this isn’t a world where the best technology wins. If it was, we’d all be using Google Wave, may it rest in peace. This is where network effects come into play. There’s a direct network effect at play with devices that integrate with one virtual assistant. The more Apple devices you have, the more valuable Siri is, because it’s closer to being present everywhere you are.
Each virtual assistant is also its own platform, which is more valuable to developers based on user adoption. Conversely, each platform becomes more valuable to consumers the more high-quality developer integrations are available. This is a key advantage for Alexa in the current market.
Integration with smart home appliances is another platform network effect. The more popular a particular virtual assistant is, the more likely companies are to build hardware that integrates with it. The more companies integrate with a virtual assistant, the more valuable it is to consumers.
Data provides its own network effects, too. The more data a company has to learn from, the more it can personalize your assistant. As you provide more data, the more valuable the initial data becomes. This is why Facebook could end up being a dark horse in the virtual assistant race — none of its potential competitors has an equivalent to its social graph data.
Above: An illustration shows Kohler’s new Verdera Alexa-enabled mirror.
Image Credit: Kohler
Embedding effects are exactly what they sound like: These assistants become embedded with your life and workflows, which make it harder to switch to a competitor. That’s why Alexa’s smart home leadership is so valuable to Amazon: If your smart fridge only works with its virtual assistant, you’re stuck in a very shiny Hotel California.
Even choosing to purchase a particular smart speaker has an embedding effect. It’s quite the decision to toss a $ 350 HomePod to the curb for a competing platform, and harder still to consign multiple to the trash heap. Google and Amazon’s budget-friendly smart speakers don’t have nearly as strong an embedding effect — unplugging a single $ 50 intelligent hockey puck is a less daunting proposition.
The same goes for other computing hardware, too. Google and Apple have significant advantages because of their assistants’ native integration with Android and iOS. (Plus Chrome OS and MacOS, to a lesser extent.) That’s one reason Cortana isn’t already an also-ran in the market: It’s integrated into every PC and Xbox, which are already embedded in homes and offices.
What’s more, advancements along all these axes feed back into one another. The companies that can best harness all of them will come out on top. But that’s going to take years to shake out, and there are a bunch of complexities at play that make it difficult to declare anyone a winner yet.
Stay tuned to VentureBeat’s AI channel for analysis of each major player in the virtual assistant game along these lines.
Apple’s release of its HomePod smart speaker and Amazon’s success with its rival Echo products recently reignited discussion over flaws in the digital assistant Siri, and one of Siri’s cofounders has explained why the feature is so disappointing. In an interview with Quartz, Norman Winarsky suggests that Apple may have given Siri an overly ambitious collection of […]
Last week I attended the KeyBanc Capital Markets Emerging Technology Summit. As a participant in their Mosaic industry leaders program, my role at the conference was to participate in one-on-one and group meetings with their institutional investor clients as a subject matter expert on machine learning and artificial intelligence. Having spent a couple of packed […]
Microsoft announced a new set of tools for developers aimed at helping them build Windows apps that leverage hardware acceleration for AI. The WinML API will take in a trained machine learning model and optimize its execution based on the hardware available on host devices. That way, developers can rely on local processing for their […]
Voicera, whose AI assistant Eva creates transcripts from voice recordings of meetings, today announced the closure of a $ 14.5 million funding round, which includes backing from a few tech giants with plans to put their own assistants in the workplace. Formerly Workfit, Voicera uses natural language processing and speech recognition to make transcripts and spot task […]
Tim O’Reilly is known for popularizing tech industry buzzwords like “open source” and “Web 2.0.” Now he wants the tech industry to be more precise in the way it thinks and talks about artificial intelligence and automation. “Don’t replace people: Augment them,” O’Reilly said onstage at VentureBeat’s Blueprint conference in Reno, Nevada. To be fair, […]
Retail giant Walmart now thinks of itself as a tech company — but it’s not putting all its eggs in Silicon Valley. The company announced today that it is opening an emerging technologies office in Dallas, Texas. Thirteen employees have already been hired at the office, and the company expects to hire roughly 32 more […]
Google has partnered with the United States Department of Defense to help the agency develop artificial intelligence for analyzing drone footage, a move that set off a firestorm among employees of the technology giant when they learned of Google’s involvement. (via Gizmodo)
Machine learning can drive tangible business value for a wide range of industries — but only if it is actually put to use. Despite the many machine learning discoveries being made by academics, new research papers showing what is possible, and an increasing amount of data available, companies are struggling to deploy machine learning to solve real business problems. In short, the gap for most companies isn’t that machine learning doesn’t work, but that they struggle to actually use it. (via Harvard Business Review)
Fresh off of its Oscars win for Icarus, a documentary about Russia's doping epidemic in sports, Netflix held a press event at its Hollywood headquarters. There, inside a 280,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art studio that it just opened last year, CEO… Engadget RSS Feed
Aircel has filed for bankruptcy protection under Section 10 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 with the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in Mumbai, after mounting losses and Malaysia’s Maxis Communications who has 74% stake in the company decided not to infuse more funds. Aircel said that agreement could not be reached with respect to restructuring of its debt and funding after discussions with the financial lenders and shareholders. Aircel said that is is not proceeding for liquidation, and will find best possible resolution for the current situation. If NCLT accepts Aircel’s request, it will be placed under a court-appointed insolvency resolution professional, who will get 180 days that can be extended by another 90 days to work out a plan to repay lenders. If that doesn’t happen after the 270-day period, it will be declared bankrupt and sent into liquidation. Aircel users are facing network issues for the past few weeks in several areas across the country since some of the tower companies have switched off Aircel’s base stations due to pending dues. It had about 80 million subscribers as of January. Aircel already said that it is working to keep its network running and facilitate users who want to port out. Reliance Communications, Aircel merger was called off back … Fone Arena
This year's bigger Galaxy handset focuses on its picture-taking capabilities: The S9+ is Samsung's first flagship with a dual camera, which brings it in line with competing phones like the Pixel 2 XL as well as its sibling Galaxy Note 8. There's also… Engadget RSS Feed
AppleInsider puts HomePod’s sound quality to the test against four smart speaker competitors, Sonos’ One, Amazon’s second-gen Echo, Google Home and Google’s Home Max, in this comprehensive comparison. Find out which comes out on top. AppleInsider – Frontpage News