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E-commerce

Voice devices on the rise at CES

The race to control the living room appears set to heat up this week, with Amazon and Google preparing to battle over the fast-growing voice shopping market at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

CES 2017 will be an important outing for the tech giants, amid heavy investment in voice-enabled devices from Google and others such as Samsung in a bid to catch up with Amazon, which is looking to maintain its position after jumping on the technology early.

With Google Assistant looking to extend its presence in the market, third party partnerships, particularly with TV manufacturers, will likely be on the agenda as a complement to its existing position as the go-to voice option on Android devices.

Google has already signed deals with major US retailers such as Walmart and Target in relation to its Shopping Express service, which is expected to bolster its voice shopping ambitions.

Amazon, which has been signing third party deals for Alexa for some time, came out of the gates at the beginning of the week with an announcement that its voice assistant will be implanted in a new range of smart glasses to be produced by Vuzix.

The e-commerce giant has also partnered with Kohler to insert Alexa into its new bathroom focused voice-lighted mirror, yet another signal that the voice race is moving beyond the living room and into other areas of the house.

The developments are significant for Australian retailers, particularly because the popularity of voice shopping is forecast to explode in Australia over the next few years as leading devices become available here.

Ebay has already partnered with Google to offer voice shopping through its marketplace via Google Assistant.

That stands to further disrupt the way customers are shopping, with the potential for tech companies like Amazon to gatekeep voice shopping by possibly offering its own products to users who don’t specify a specific brand when searching.

According to Google, it has sold more than six million home speaker devices since launching its Google Home Mini product last October, with Google assistant now available on more than 400 million devices worldwide.

Google launched its Home products in Australia late last year and spent the holiday period investing heavily in digital and tv advertising to spruik the products.

Meanwhile Amazon, which intends to launch its Echo products in Australia over the next few months, has been spruiking its own sales of the devices. According to the online giant, it sold more than 16 million last year, although that number is undoubtedly much larger now.

Others such as Samsung are also preparing to unveil voice innovations at CES this year, with the Korean company’s Bixby assistant slated to be brought into its range of TV’s and smart-fridges.

Competitor LG is also set to debut a new sound bar for its latest range of TVs.

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