It’s a bit of a surprising that Amazon has found such success with their Alexa devices. In response to it, Google decided to develop Google Home to compete with Alexa. rumors about a stand-alone Apple Siri device have been thrown around as well. Will Microsoft respond in kind? Looks like there already is one.
This is going to be called HomeHub, which has been reportedly in the works for some time. There was a number of stories shared this weekend about how HomeHub would “crush” both Amazon Echo and Google Home when it comes out. But the big difference seems to be that HomeHub won’t be a piece of hardware, but a new software layer on or within Windows 10.
According to Windows Central:
Home Hub isn’t a dedicated device that’s designed to take on the likes of the Amazon Echo and Google Home, as in the end, Home Hub is just the software. But that software can do everything the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices can, but with one added benefit: a screen. Home Hub is designed to run on Windows 10 PCs, mainly All-In-Ones and 2-in-1’s with touch screens, but can work on any Windows 10 machine. Pen and ink support are also part of the plan.
The main feature of this smart-home software overlay will be an always-on Cortana, which would be accessible fromt he lock screen. The big difference between Microsoft’s approach and Google’s, strategically, is taking on Echo/Alexa is that there will be a PC or tablet screen to complement the virtual assistant experience.
This was always my personal issue with the likes of Alexa and Home – those devices gave only audible responses to the user. You aren’t given any other way to recieve the infomation you asked for. This could solve some challenges that exist right now for both users and marketers with the screenless Echo and Home. But there are some challenges for Microsoft. The “PC in the kitchen” scenario hasn’t materialized as a mass-market phenomenon.
Another major factor in this scenario is price. Due to the decline in PC sales, despite the success of Microsoft’s Surface, it’ll be quite difficult for Microsoft to convince people to spend hundreds of dollars for another PC, regardless how utilitarian it would be. This is even more true when you compare how cheap the Echo ($179) and Google Home ($129) is.
But keep in mind this is speculation. There isn’t anything concrete until Microsoft comes out and says something more about it. It would make sense that Microsoft would make a response to the rise of Echo and Google Home, as they have apsired to be the brain of the smart home.