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The rise of voice search puts pressure on Google

By Joe Tidy, Sky News Correspondent
Google is an empire built on search.
Since it launched in 1997, the company has famously gone from "Garage to Googleplex" by relying on us using its service to search the internet for anything from "today's weather" to "how do I make slime?"
The results we get are accompanied by ads and it's in seeing and clicking on these ads that the company makes the vast majority of its revenue.But what if we don't see these ads?The world of search is changing fast and Google knows it. This week, the annual Google I/O event is taking place in California and what's clearer than ever is that Google is swiftly manoeuvring itself against the potential threat of voice search.Whether it's Siri, Alexa or Google, the company recognises that voice-controlled devices are fast becoming accepted.:: Google News to use AI in personalisation revamp
The rise of voice search puts pressure on Google

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Speech-based searching could damage the Google business model
As Jamie Hirschhorn, from Google's global product partnerships team, said in a conference talk: "The growth of voice speakers and other assistants around your home has been huge this year and we're really expecting it to grow."One slide she put up went as far as to suggest that voice search assistants will be the future of internet and as transformational as mobile has been.Even on a small scale, I can see it happening in my life. Increasingly I find myself googling simple things while watching TV (with Amazon's Alexa) and asking quick questions in my car using my phone - "hey, Siri".This is the internet's bread and butter but it's also Google's too. You could argue that they will still be able to harvest voice search data to tailor ads but if I'm looking at screens less, then I won't see them.
The rise of voice search puts pressure on Google

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Google will have to encourage the use of screen-based voice activated devices
It's no surprise then, that Google spent a considerable amount of time and effort getting developers and customers excited about its own voice-controlled services during the I/O conference.Their offerings though have a big difference - they're all about the visuals.
In the summer, the company's first Smart Display will hit the shelves. Described as a "visual-first" version of its Assistant, it's clear they want us to opt for this over the standard smart speaker.In one speech, Google urged potential app developers to create products made to be seen: "It's not just about voice, adding rich visuals to supplement a conversational interface makes it far more engaging and delightful for your users."It also makes it easier for them to display adverts.Getting these products to outsell the speaker-only versions will be key for the company but there are other options.Soon we'll be able to order and pay for our regular Starbucks coffee using the voice assistant, with other brands such as Domino's on board too.No doubt new ways of monetising voice search are also being developed right now.
The rise of voice search puts pressure on Google

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Google chief executive Sundar Pichai delivers the keynote address at the I/O conference
But Google faces another challenge if it wants to thrive in the voice search world - it needs to catch up.According to a YouGov survey published in April, it was revealed that Google Home holds 7% of the UK smart speaker market (plus 9% for the Google Home Mini) compared to Amazon Echo's (combined) 75%.Amazon's voice assistant runs using Google's biggest search engine rival, Microsoft's Bing.
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Put it this way - according to Net Market Share, 74.5% of all internet searches are made using Google on most platforms, but when it comes to home assistant searches, it's a small player.Google will probably always be one of the biggest internet companies, but it's facing the first serious threat to its business model since those early days in the garage.
news.sky.com
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