Evolutionary biology tells us that there can only be one alpha in a constrained space.

It is then unsurprising that tech giants are facing off on more and more fronts and the latest appears to be personal services, where Amazon and Google have both launched efforts to be the first port of call for everything from streaming Aerosmith to finding the right outfit.

Amazon Echo and Google Now are emblematic of the broader battle these leviathans are fighting, armed with their widely differentiated consumer data. In the spirit of some friendly crossfire, practice leads for Search (David Towers) and Ecommerce (Mudit Jaju) at MEC Global Solutions offer a point-counterpoint argument on who has a stronger offering and greater credibility.
Amazon Echo and Google Now

Echo propels Amazon beyond shopping mode

Mudit Jaju writes: Disintermediating the fulfilment of a consumer need is old hat to Amazon – Kindle for instance is a full loop ecosystem for readers. Amazon Echo is a voice activated smart device that can play music, answer questions, organize to do lists and of course, add stuff to your shopping list. Amazon Echo works when primed with the word “Alexa” from any direction by using beam forming technology.

As music is a core use case – Echo is officially classified as a speaker – it is able to hear voice commands over streaming music. The threshold of interacting with it is remarkably low since it uses far field communications. There is a companion app that goes with Echo for the vocally challenged, but Echo’s brilliance is how spectacularly useful it would be in a busy kitchen or garage and the hands free element will allow it to become the hub of a smart home in a lean back environment.

Google Now trumps Amazon Echo

David Towers writes: Google Now is superior to Amazon’s first attempt at a personal assistant on so many counts. First off, to use Google Now, you don’t need to buy a speaker that lives in only one room – it works on most mobile devices. What truly sets Google Now apart is how cleverly it taps into the data Google already has about consumers: location, emails, search history, calendar etc.

Google already is a nexus of all these things and as we feed more information to them, Google Now’s service gets better. Google has never been a search engine, but is a knowledge engine. When I’m travelling abroad, I don’t need an app for exchange rates or to tell me if my flight is delayed, it’s all on my Google Now home screen before I even search for it. This anticipatory side of Google Now wipes the floor with Amazon’s first attempt of a personal assistant with Amazon Echo.

Amazon is disintermediating Google

Mudit Jaju writes: Amazon’s core offering is convenience, not retail. Amazon knows its consumers want what they want, when they want and have set about eliminating superfluous steps to wish fulfilment. In the personal assistant space, Google’s core data source, search, is one of these superfluous steps and Amazon Echo makes it utterly unnecessary. Amazon has built itself on simplicity and in a mobile world, it will be the go-to source for consumers for things beyond shopping. Amazon’s forte has been the data crunching that enables it to deliver highly personalized experiences and by coming into the home, it gets better at understanding consumers.

Sure, Google Now is a better way of searching in an active mode, but the growth of smart device usage will come from lean back, at home moments. Amazon is shaking up the cash cow that is Google Search because consumers don’t want a portal to another portal – and Echo is the latest way in which it is aggressively becoming the first and only port of call for consumer decisions.

Google is disintermediating Amazon

David Towers writes: Google is not a portal and is already the first and only port of call for most consumers. Google is an answer engine and we’re seeing Google provide increasingly better answers. The reality is that if you’re searching for a factual answer like how tall Mt. Kilimanjaro is, you won’t even need to visit a website outside of Google. Google’s result pages are now competing directly with websites, and for users it’s a good thing because it is a superior user experience.

Soon, you will be able to search for a product and add it into your Google Shopping Basket without even needing to visit a retailer website. It’s Google who is shaking up the online retail space because ecommerce is at the heart of many of its developments. Amazon is squarely in Google’s crosshairs and my money is firmly on Google.

Amazon and Google are shaping the future

One thing we can all agree on is that Google and Amazon are shaping the future of how we use technology and the internet in an increasing number of ways. In this constant chess match, both players are making moves at a head spinning pace and consumers stand to benefit. Of course, there are other players like Apple and Facebook, but this is a marathon, not a sprint. Besides, we have yet to see what Alibaba decides to do.

David Towers

David Towers


David Towers is Digital Partner & Head of Search, EMEA at MEC.