- Progressive is headed into people’s homes via Google Home. The company has become the first insurer on the voice-activated speaker powered by Google Assistant. It will dole out auto and home insurance tips to Google Home customers after they say, ‘Google, let me talk to Progressive,’ according to a press release.
- Harnessing Progressive’s expertise, Google Home is programmed to respond to a range of queries spanning car and home buying and insurance. Questions posed to Google Home on those topics will be monitored by Progressive to improve its interactions with people curious about insurance employing the mini machine.
- Progressive is the latest company to board the home assistant train. Using Google Home competitor Amazon Echo, hungry pizza lovers can order Domino’s Pizza pies, music fans can play tunes through Spotify, Uber and Lyft riders can request pick-ups, and Capital One bank account holders can track their spending.
In the voicebot races, Amazon has taken an early lead. According to Strategy Analytics, more than 4 million intelligent home speakers were sold globally in Q4, and Amazon’s Alexa was responsible for 88% of those sales. Google Assistant accounted for a mere 10% market share in the quarter. Strategy Analytics projects 1 million Google Home devices will sell by midyear, far fewer than the number of Amazon Echo units that will take up residence in homes around the world in the same period.
But Progressive’s entrance into Google Assistant’s vocabulary suggests marketers are taking Google Home seriously — and they should. Strategy Analytics director David Watkins and smart home device industry insiders are definitely not dismissing Google Home as an easy competitor for Amazon Echo to trounce. “Google is hot on Amazon’s heels and the search giant should be able to significantly cut Amazon’s lead over the coming year,” proclaimed Watkins. Google parent Alphabet Inc. chief executive officer Sundar Pichai has been bullish on Google Home’s results so far and its future. Referring to the device, he said in Alphabet’s Q4 earnings call, “We had a very strong quarter there, and we are going to invest a lot in it over 2017.”
Smart home speakers are coveted by marketers for their abilities to interact with consumers throughout their days. That’s a huge reason why Jupiter Research predicts ad spend on digital assistants will skyrocket 100 percent between 2016 and 2021. Google Home could be a formidable contender for those ad dollars, but it has to prove to marketers it can drives sales. Amazon is making a much better case that its intelligent home machines connect to commerce. Per information supplied by RBC analyst Mark Mahaney to The Motley Fool, 17% of Echo users turn to Alexa to place Amazon orders and purchasing via Alexa is expected to climb. For now, Google Home just doesn’t have the shopping prowess of its Amazon peer, although it has begun dipping its toes into e-commerce.