The year of home automation?

Two very similar services seem to be locked in a battle to win over US home automation users during the Christmas season: Amazon Echo, which has been on the market since June 2015 (available from November 2014 for Amazon Prime members or by invitation); and Google Home, launched in November 2016 as part of its drive to enter the hardware market.

Both have conversational interfaces to automate certain tasks, such as turning on lights such as Philips Hue, playing music from services like Amazon Music, Spotify, answering questions, reading audiobooks, checking in with the latest news and weather forecasts, as well as turning things on and off, running smart thermostats or other connected devices, and even ordering a pizza or an Uber.

In short, a world of futuristic conveniences that many people have been trying already for some time, while others have kept theirs secret for fear of the competition, but as said, a battle dominated by Amazon and Google, although of course Apple is waiting in the wings with its own smart home device, while Microsoft continues to work on its HomeHub.

Amazon is the pioneer in the US market, which has given it a clear advantage and also enabled it to integrate all the features of its sales interface into many products, while being able to draw on its Amazon Prime user base, which some analysts say now has a presence in half of all American homes. Amazon may continue to dominate the sector, but Google is believed by some analysts to have a presence in some five million homes. It has also made significant gains in the connected speaker market. The automation of domestic functions is a segment we’ve been talking about for some time now, and in the United States has already managed to a presence in a significant number of households. Outside the United States, Amazon Echo has only been released in the United Kingdom (September 2016) and Germany (October 2016), while Google Home is still unavailable.

Will 2016 be the year in which we will see the popularization of this type of devices beyond the United States?

(En español, aquí)