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The war between Google Assistant and Alexa is getting more difficult than expectedfor Alexa as more products can support both Alexa and Google Assistant, and since smart home companies want to sell products to as many customers as possible, Alexa has been getting fewer and fewer exclusive victories.

Google used its massive presence at CES this week to send a message that it has bigger plans for the Assistant, too. Even at other companies’ exhibits, Google deployed employees dressed in white clothes and Assistant-themed hats to talk visitors through the features it could provide onthird-party devices. It also launched a new interpreter mode on Google Assistant that’s being piloted at hotels in Las Vegas, New York, and San Francisco.

In contrast, Amazon’s presence felt small. Amazon had two main booths — one for Ring and another for Amazon Key — neither of which seemed fully prepared. At both booths, live demos of important Amazon features were not available. Ring’s new Door View Cam wasn’t activated nor connected to the app, and one booth over, Amazon’s Key for Garage didn’t have much to show.

An interview conducted before the show Amazon’s SVP of devices and services Dave Limp said, “Customers do not care about an ad campaign on the Las Vegas Strip.” And that may be why its presence felt diminished. Alexa has already established itself in the smart home industry, while Google Assistant still feels like the underdog with something to prove.

Alexa’s apparent lead no longer feels as strong when you’re looking at the breadth of gadgets out there, because third-party device makers aren’t playing favorites. Devices like the U by Moen shower, the Lockly Secure Pro smart lock, and locks from August, all sport compatibility with Alexa and Google, while HomeKit looms on the horizon. Getting all those systems on one device took “the better part of last year” for Lockly, says CEO Lee Zheng. “Obviously Apple
Home Kit will take a little bit longer.”

Few companies have taken a definitive stance on smart assistants,so we’ll continue to see all these devices and different assistants grow and thrive all at once. Alexa may have taken an early lead in this race, but it’s not even close to being over yet.

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