Google’s problem hasn’t been that it can’t make good hardware. It’s just that it’s never been able to market it properly.
Fun fact: Google Home is my favorite of the connected-speaker-assist-things so far. I like it more than Amazon Echo. Way more than the Echo Dot. Maybe not quite as much as Echo Show, but that’s a whole ‘nother product just waiting for a purpose.
The just-leaked Google Home Mini, as leaked by Droid-Life, has me downright excited.
Start with the way it looks. It’s got that same sort of fabric thing going on that the original Google Home has. And so long as you get away from the drab gray (please, Google, make sure that’s not the only color available at launch), it’s going to be a looker. After the Echo Show, Google Home is the best-designed of the bunch. This should follow in its footsteps.
Then there’s the diminutive size. Like the Echo Dot, it’s going to be small. While the OG Google Home isn’t exactly massive, something even smaller will be able to tucked into corners that much more, and that’s a good thing. How good will it sound? I have no idea. But size generally does matter when it comes to that sort of thing. I’d be surprised if it’s as good as the original Echo Home. But so long as it’s at least as good as the Echo Dot (and that’s a low bar, I know), then we’re good. But figure it’ll also be able to shoot out to other speakers, so…
Also I am totally down for smart speakers that look like whoopee cushions https://t.co/PO0j6P6Ugp
— Chris Davies (@c_davies) September 19, 2017
Next is the price. The unofficial listing (until Oct. 4, anyway) is $49, right in line with the Echo Dot. That’s important because price is the Dot’s one true weapon. It doesn’t look great. It doesn’t sound great. And I’d argue that Google’s “Actions” are generally better and easier to use than Alexa’s “Skills.” (Plus remember that Google Home can now make phone calls.)
Amazon still has a huge advantage in that it promotes the Echo Dot on its home page — and doesn’t sell Google Home.
But you haven’t been able to beat the price of the Echo Dot, which we’ve seen dip to just under $40 when on sale. (And I’m not counting the Eufy Genie, which is basically an inferior Echo Dot.)
At $49 — and figure we’ll probably see discounts, and even more likely a “Buy a phone, get a Home Mini for free” deal — this is going to be priced to move.
The final piece of the puzzle is marketing. Google’s gotten a lot better at that over the past few years, with specifically with its Android Wear “Be together, not the same” commercials, and later with spots for the Pixel phones. It’ll need to spend a bunch of bucks promoting the Home Mini to keep up with Amazon. (To say nothing of the front-page advertising advantage Amazon has, as well as the fact that you can’t actually buy a Google Home on Amazon, because competition sucks and all that.)
But it looks like Google’s finally got something on its hands that can compete with the Echo Dot. Now it just has to sell it. Erm, after it’s actually announced.