Did Amazon just win the smart home?

Lauren Barack 02 October 2017

Pop the popcorn and grab a chair (perhaps your wallet too): Two technology powerhouses are digging in. Their goal? Your home — and who will control the way you run it.

Google, without a doubt the reigning Medici's of the internet, are going up against Amazon, they the emperors of online sales.

Just last week we saw Google pull YouTube access from Amazon Echo devices, one day before Amazon's surprise product announcements. The Seattle-based online retailer proceeded to launch new Echo devices with apparent glee, gadgets that make calls from your landline, a new Fire TV, and even a new beau: Alexa's gonna set up shop in BMWs starting next year.

Not only do all of these devices carry Amazon's internet-connected voice assistant, they're actually pretty: there's some Feng Shui around Amazon's new products — and none too soon. Silver and metal gadgets may ID themselves as tech, but to make a connected product something we actually want to spend our days with, they need to feel like home.

Apple understood how much we craved beautiful design early on in the tech space, launching sleek devices conjured by Jony Ive that we all wanted to carry: at the time, the Tiffany of the wearable world. Amazon's fabric coverings, wood veneer and smaller footprint are a step in that direction: products that don't just do a job, but are objects that make sense in a home.

Amazon may have trumped Google with its product launch last week — but Google has the next word: Its own event this week. And while that's not enough time to hit the drawing board and redesign from scratch, we expect smart home-related devices to come from the Mountain View, CA-based Google.

The smart home market is a profitable one. Globally, the connected home space will be worth more than $53 billion by 2022, according to Zion Market Research. That's certainly worth vying for. No one company will own the entire marketplace — much like wearables, consumers will cherry pick which device is best suited for their particular lifestyle. Homes aren't any different: To some that's a sprawling estates, to others that's a bedroom in a shared apartment. (You're hardly buying a smart thermostat for your fourth-floor walk-up in Brooklyn.)

Someone may lean towards a smart lock, others a connected TV where they can play their favorite YouTube channel. But all consumers have one thing in common: They want their devices to work together. If it's too complicated to make everything connect — or if they feel that the fix takes away from the fun (or the look) — buyers are going to choose another way.

Google and Amazon (and yes, even Apple and Microsoft) are all positioning themselves to be the way you link, run and direct your home in the future. Who's to win? They've only just begun. You can visit GearBrain's What Works with Amazon Alexa to see the connected devices that work with Amazon Echo and Alexa enabled devices. And if you own a Google Home or Home Mini, visit What Works with Google Home or Home Mini page.