Google wants to change the way we interact with technology. The fact that tech journalists and Wall Street analysts love its new smartphone doesn’t hurt either, by the way.
The new Pixel smartphone looks and feels a lot like an iPhone by design. However, the real magic is software, especially the built-in Google Assistant. Google spent the better part of seven years weaving machine learning into everything Pixel does. Plus, the smartphone evolves mobile computing from touch to voice.
There is a lot of value in that evolution. Voice is fast, context driven, intensely personal and doesn’t take drivers’ hands off the steering wheel. All of these things remove friction. That’s important.
When Amazon introduced its Echo line of Internet of Things appliances, many in the tech world were caught off guard by its simplicity and immediate success. You simply told it what you wanted and the digital assistant made it happen. There was no requirement to download and configure a mobile application, no need to learn the interface, and no list of choices to pick from.
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Pixel brings that simplicity to a mobile handset. It also brings all the personal information Google knows about you and its enormous Knowledge Graph of 70 billion facts. So, you can query your Pixel about the traffic on your evening commute, the status of your Amazon deliveries, and the interpretation of the lyrics to Orange Crush by REM. Or you can ask it to call a phone number not in your contact list.
|Google’s Pixel puts the “smart” in smartphone.|
This gives Pixel a leg up on iPhone by Apple. Although Siri debuted in 2011, Apple’s digital assistant has been a slow learner. Walt Mossberg, of Recode, wrote an entire article asking: ”Why does Siri seem so dumb?”
You can bet Google will not suffer that fate. Its DeepMind project attracts the brightest people in artificial intelligence, and it is already far ahead of the pack in terms of accomplishment. Google’s business model is devoted to rapidly deploying machine-learning software at scale to collect and understand data.
That is the key. We are living in an era where the two most valuable commodities are data and time. Google is planting a flag at the intersection. All of its services are collecting massive amounts of data. Its algorithms are efficiently learning what we like and how best to serve us information.
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And Google’s executives know very well that as the migration to voice interface begins, hardware will fade into the background and a new platform war will develop. Very few will survive. Users will demand portability and competence. They will reward platforms with the least amount of friction, those that save time.
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker likened voice to a “new paradigm in human-computer interaction” at her widely-regarded Internet Trends presentation. Voice is the logical future of computing.
Alphabet (GOOGL) is the best-positioned company to benefit. The stock is still a buy into any material weakness.