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Google Tells Home Audio Vendors To Ditch Competing Smart Assistants If They Want To Use Google Cast: Variety (variety.com) 60

Google is telling its home audio vendors that they won't be allowed to add support for smart assistants by rivals such as Amazon's Alexa if they want to continue to use Google Cast, according to Variety. The Mountain View-based company reportedly conducted a meeting in June with 50 of the biggest names of home audio to discuss the plan. The publication adds that Google's talks with OEMs were at least partially successful, with many of those companies planning to unveil their Google Cast-powered smart speakers as soon as next year. From the report:"Google Cast has become a Trojan horse," said one of the attendees, who wasn't authorized to speak on the record with Variety. Google's overtures to consumer electronics makers come at a time of upheaval for many home audio brands. Premium stereo equipment makers, in particular, have seen their sales diminished in recent years by both changing listening habits and a rapid evolution of technology. The move to streaming audio led music fans to massively embrace headphones and cheap Bluetooth speakers. Then Sonos came along and established itself as the market leader for premium Wifi-connected speakers. And finally, Amazon surprised everyone with the Echo, a device that redefined what a speaker does, thanks to smart voice control that can be used to request songs, news headlines, the weather, and even to order a pizza or an Uber.Weirdly enough, Google, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft announced a partnership this week to conduct research and promoting best practices on AI.
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Google Tells Home Audio Vendors To Ditch Competing Smart Assistants If They Want To Use Google Cast: Variety

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    microsoft was in the same boat in europe wrt browsers and oem customizations.

    granted, microsoft's marketshare was/is higher than google's is with "smart" speakers.. but give them time, they'll strong arm enough manufacturers to kill even echo, relegating amazon's product to a fancy order placer -- just like amazon's android-derived phone died an unglamorous death and (color non 'e reader') kindles are second-rate android tablets.

  • Do no evil? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Sunday October 02, 2016 @09:07AM (#52998735) Journal
    Building with openness and interoperability in mind = nice
    Contributing to FOSS community = fluffy
    Building your own service "stack" = cool
    Pressuring vendors to support your stack exclusively = dick move

    If one thing is clear about these (so called) AI assistants, is that they can provide enormous amounts of incredibly juicy data. And it looks like Google wants all of it.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well, Google has never claimed they wouldn't be evil. Even Oracle doesn't have a business model that's fundamentally evil.

      Oracle is a bunch of dicks acting evil - but selling software. But Google is a bunch of nicely-behaving people strip mining your privacy.

      • Re: Do no evil? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Googles fucking motto was "Don't be evil "

        • by Anonymous Coward

          "Don't be evil" is the corporate motto (or slogan) of Google. It was first suggested either by Google employee Paul Buchheit at a meeting about corporate values that took place in early 2000 or in 2001 or, according to another account, by Google Engineer Amit Patel in 1999.

          Forgot to post this from above, same ac

          • by Anonymous Coward

            "Don't be evil" was the corporate motto (or slogan) of Google. They dropped that when they restructured under Alphabet. Now Alphabet has "do the right thing" and Google proper is without any guiding motto at all.

    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Sunday October 02, 2016 @10:27AM (#52999027) Homepage Journal

      I dunno, the conversation might have gone like this:

      "Oh yes, one other thing. You know those voice assistants? Siri? Alexa? Cortana?"

      'Yes, we were planning to integrate them into our systems, we've looked at the market research, and there's a 10% probability that our customers might actually want that in the next ten ye..."

      "Don't. I mean, don't tell anyone, but even our "OK Google" voice thing is going to be phased out in favor of just a simple voice dialing thing. And you definitely should knock it off with Siri/Alexa/Cortana/etc. The fact is they're all evil."

      "Evil Mr Brin? What do you mean?"

      "We found the NSA tapping into OK Google a few hours after launch. Right now, if you use Siri, we've found no less than 27 intelligence agencies, plus the Mafia, the Trump campaign, the RIAA, and the Milk Marketing Board of North America will add your search terms to their databases. And you don't want to know about Alexa, I mean, *whispers* we discovered Oracle has found a way to tap into that."

      Kenwood's head of Product Development gasped. "Oracle? You mean... Larry Ellison can hear me say goodnight to my kids every night?"

      Sergey nodded. "There's a mountain Island just off the west coast of Hawaii that contains a secret underground base where Ellison collects reports from Alexa, and uses them to determine the right time to strike. We found he'd hacked Google at one point, and were able to feed him false data to throw him off, but it's just a matter of time. The only reason OK Google is still running is because we want him to think it's still valid data."

      "We'll remove the functionality."

      • Is Googles policy better than everyone else?
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Is Googles policy better than everyone else?

          No, it's WORSE. Far, far worse.

          Because Google's business model is built around selling your privacy. What's not inherently evil about that?

          Anybody who rails about "NSA wiretaps" while using anything Google-related is hilariously clueless.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Google's business model is built around selling your eyeballs. They don't sell a single byte of data about you. Your privacy is their competitive advantage, and they guard that very jealously indeed.

        • by Rob Y. ( 110975 )

          Well, Apple doesn't license their software to OEM's, but you can bet there'll never be a Siri competitor integrated into any Apple hardware.

          Microsoft sells Windows through OEM's, and I don't think they allow them to disable Cortana or provide a competitor out of the box. It took much legal wrangling to get them to make it easy-ish to replace Internet Explorer. And I think Google desktop search has become a thing of the past...

          Does Amazon license their smart speaker software? I doubt it. And in any case,

    • You know Google replaced it's 'Do no evil' with 'Do the right thing' last year, right? It is just the right thing for their business ;)
    • About your SIG, "entire building...?" Why did you ignore the Infrastructure surrounding the building?
    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      Pressuring vendors to support your stack exclusively = dick move

      Signing vendors to support exclusively your entire stack and no competitor's product just to interoperate to provide customers' one function of that stack = Antitrust.

  • Weirdly enough, Google, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft announced a partnership this week to conduct research and promoting best practices on AI.

    Why is that weird? It's just a trade association. Its purpose is to come up with a minimal code of conduct in the field of AI so that the government doesn't impose something more stringent, to give what may be mistaken as an independent body to take complaints about its members to, and to the extent practical to establish ways to restrict outsiders from entering the market. This is perfectly normal, every industry with money sloshing around has them. It doesn't mean the companies don't compete (or indeed en

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Support nobody else but Google which will drop their own thing in a few months/years, or support everybody but Google?

    That's not really a choice, Google are shooting themselves in the foot.

  • by slaker ( 53818 ) on Sunday October 02, 2016 @09:34AM (#52998829)

    Two things that come to my mind are that Miracast is a standard remote display technology that lots of things support, including many Smart TVs and STBs.

    The other thing is that I've run across several non-Google platforms that enable some sort of media casting, using an Android Intent (the Share button, basically) to show media on another device and definitely works with Android to Kodi or Plex Clients or from the desktop with a browser plugin. As far as I know, there's no special Google magic in it.

    What's so special about Google Cast in any of this?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 02, 2016 @09:43AM (#52998863)

      The special thing about Google Cast is the six letters G, o, o, g, l, and e. These letters provide the reliability that hardware manufacturers expect. Who else practically guarantees that the devices will be obsoleted in a reasonable timeframe? When Google abandons the product, not only will consumers buy new hardware. The old hardware will completely lose purpose and value, preventing a second-hand market.

    • The special sauce is probably that Android phones only support Google Cast out of the box.

    • by jrumney ( 197329 )
      The special thing is discovery, and the ability to send you to your TV's app store to download any app that is required.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I remember when digital music was going to revolutionize quality of music reproduction. No loss, no compression, more sonic head room and better frequency response. Now we seem destine for convenience over quality, wireless mono speakers, small single drivers, internet devices with a lack of real quality drivers. Besides these proprietary technologies meant to lock people into a ecosystem. Sure the music is DRM free but now the devices are becoming locked. Not good in my opinion.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Title says it all

  • I mean really? They are designed to listen to every tiny sound inside your home.
    "Oh, trust us, we don't record or keep recordings of these things, we don't give access to these things to ~other people~"
    Right. How about FUCK YOU?

    I have intentionally destroyed friendships because of people I was "friends" with having Facebook and google spyware installed on their phones.
    I won't have phone conversations with people that use "smart phones". I won't go to people's homes that have these fucking "digital assist

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You just used to the internet to post to slashdot. But nahhhhhhh you don't use the Internet. Where is that high horse when you need him?

      In Vino Veritas.

    • by Lisandro ( 799651 ) on Sunday October 02, 2016 @12:49PM (#52999721)

      I have intentionally destroyed friendships because of people I was "friends" with having Facebook and google spyware installed on their phones.

      I guess they're still weeping over this. You sound like a lot of fun.

    • You don't have friends if you intentionally destroyed the relationship because they have Facebook installed on their phone. You don't even know what the word "friend" means if you'd consider that a rational act. You should really find someone to talk to if you have any trust left whatsoever. I've got a pretty good idea what privacy concerns look like and an even better idea what mental illness looks like, and this is the ravings of someone deep within the latter.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Isnt this exactly the kind of awful behavior that saw Microsoft and others excoriated? Can you legally tie the ability to turn on an OS feature to a commitment not to use a completely different technology that has no technically reasonable explanation for why the two should be linked?

    Usually I am all for free market, whatever you can get in a contract go get it, but this seems exactly the kind of muscle move that anti-trust concerns are designed to prevent.

  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Monday October 03, 2016 @06:43AM (#53003211)
    "Look up Standard Oil."
  • The AI war will be fought by humans on their behalf... for market share? Quite a twist of fate on the old school sci-fi notion. Google has made some ill conceived dick moves in the past, this is a whole bag of dicks.
  • OS/2 was also pretty neat.

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