Amazon (Alexa) vs Google (Assistant)

Two different approaches to conversational paradigm

Giorgio Robino
Sep 16, 2017 · 2 min read

A bit kidding, I see things in an almost opposite way: it’ Google (Assistant) that is surrounding Amazon (Alexa) but not (just) in the technological space.

Both titans are now pretty “equal” in tech architecture framework and structure of voicefirst platforms offered to third party apps authors; to be fully honest, Amazon Alexa own a small advantage, by example supplying streaming APIs (for long prerecorded audio contents…) right now, whereas Google Assistant still lacks this core feature … but it’s coming soon.

The big diversity I see, is in the space of what Google conversational design team call “conversation” (in broad meaning: cultural, psychological, socio-linguistic, philosophical and not just as set of chatbots design interaction guidelines); it’s a matter of human-centric (design) rethinking of human-machine interactions.

That appears to me as a huge cultural (not just design-related) move (for Google), facing a paradigm-shift from visual to conversational, where “conversation” is collective shared (human) intelligence communication, in respect of multiple traits of humans’ diversity… I’d say with my words:

Amazon instead, “simplistically” pursue his usual commercial strategy I call “centralizing into the marketplace”. I feel that Alexa skills fundamental concept is:

“to minimize, for a consumer, the elapsed time between the mental stimulus to purchase something and the instant when stuff is owned”.

Here voice-based conversational appliances (for the family, at home) are just a more convenient UI for consumers. And BTW, now Amazon Echo devices are enhancing even more the e-commerce space to human-to-human telecommunications sectors (voice, video, multimodal); the company just want to bring all humans’ activities in his marketplace. Scary.

About the metabots’ ubiquitous computing challenge, I wrote more thoughts months ago:

Last but not least I invite you to participate and wrote also for the Italian community blog !

Giorgio Robino

Written by

Engineer and Researcher in Conversational AI. I work at ITD-CNR. My articles: Microblog: