Category: digital assistants

Apple’s missteps and future

I’ll admit to feeling a certain sense of vindication when I read this recent column on Bloomberg Businessweek about the sorry state of Apple’s TV initiatives (or lack thereof):

“After 10 years, Apple TV is pretty much the same. Meanwhile Amazon, Google and others are leading the way in revamping how people interact with TV sets by speaking to them or mixing live television programs with libraries of older shows and movies.”

Ever since it became apparent to me that digital delivery of TV programming was the inevitable future of distribution, I have thought it was a nearly-perfect fit for Apple to purchase Sony. It would deliver them a source of IP that spanned from videogames and music to television and film content, as well as the know-how to produce new material.

In the mid-2000s (like now), Apple was flush with cash and should have spent a chunk of it to acquire Sony, which to this day, still struggles with its own line of businesses, from the Vaio to the Walkman to the Betamax. Even their vaunted televisions are now second-banana to upstarts like Vizio.

Granted, I may be overstating the predicament that Apple finds itself, but it seems to be strategically challenged in the arena of digital content delivery, especially with regard to streaming video. A purchase like Sony would be a bold statement from this parent of the smartphone to enter the next phase of innovation.

In fact, I suspect (hope?) they’re working on the next entrant to the home digital assistant market. Will Siri’s home-based device – whatever that may be – serve as a viable and successful challenge to the likes of Alexis, OK Google, Cortana and Bixby? I won’t hold my breath, but hope springs eternal, right?

 

Here they come… the inevitable march of digital assistants!

Apropos of my last post, I was reminded that Samsung has recently introduced “Bixby” on its Galaxy S8 – now, with an English version! – that portends yet another entrant into the digital assistant marketplace. More importantly, it will try to lure you into the Samsung ecosystem, as opposed to the Amazon, Google or Apple ones. In fact, I just received an email from Capital One with this little snippet:

Your Capital One® credit card comes with lots of great perks and benefits, and we’ve teamed up with Samsung Pay to reward you with a little something extra the next time you use your card in Samsung Pay.

Clearly, there are incentives being provided to draw you ever more into these respective ecosystems. From smartphones, to digital payments, to entertainment (media), to content, there are growing signs that we are facing a fractious technological future.

My big question is how Samsung will manifest Bixby into your digital life. Clearly, there is a trend toward having a separate device that stands alone in your home environment. Alexa (aka Echo) was first, with Google Home and Apple right behind. But will we see a standalone device – separate from the smartphone – which will incorporate Bixby’s functionality and permit voice commands to run appliances, televisions, and more (many of which Samsung manufactures)? Or could you simply have a stand for your phone that recharges it and also responds to voice commands?

It would appear that other home devices have distinguishing characteristics, from ultra-high quality speakers to screen touchpads. But I can envision Samsung having all these options contained in a dock or port of some sort, which will use the Galaxy smartphone as its core.

There are so many ways that things can go, and with power players like Amazon, Apple and Google behind them, it will be fascinating to observe which rise to the top, or fall to the wayside. Regardless, things continue to change at a rapid clip, and I believe the evolution of the home assistant will greatly determine how it proceed. Stay tuned!

p.s.  – Just saw this about Amazon and Sears getting into business (poor retail!), and it reinforces the growth of this tech giant into all sorts of business – data acquisition, entertainment, consumer goods, retail, and so much more. How will it get into social media? and where does Facebook figure in this whole new universe?