Google Joins Azione, Pushing DIY Voice Control to Smart-Home Pros
Azione Unlimited, a buying group for home-technology pros, adds another DIY vendor to the roster -- Google Home -- shortly after Sonos joins the group.
Google Home has joined Azione Unlimited, a leading buying group in the home-technology channel with nearly 200 dealer members. The announcement comes just two weeks after another DIY vendor, Sonos, joined the group. With Sonos offering native Amazon Alexa in its new Sonos One speakers, Azione now represents the top two voice-control platforms in the professional installation channel.
Azione's announcement about the new vendor makes clear the deal "initially" includes only three products: Google Home, Google Home Mini, and Google Home Max. It does not include other Google Hardware ("Made by Google" products such as Google Chromecast, Google Clips camera, Daydream View VR headset, Google Wifi or Google Pixel Buds.
It also does not include smart-home devices from sister company Nest, which now falls under the Google Hardware umbrella. Integrators will have to look elsewhere for their Nest thermostats, Nest Protect smoke/CO detectors, Nest Cam cameras, Nest Secure alarm system, Nest Hello video doorbell and Nest x Yale smart locks.
Interestingly, Google Home Max is positioned as a direct competitor to Sonos One. Announcing the product last year, Rick Osterloh, SVP Hardware at Google, took several jabs at Sonos.
“We can do with two microphones what others need six or eight mics to do,” he said at the time -- just 30 minutes after Sonos boasted its new Sonos One speaker had six microphones built in.
He also suggested, in so many words, that Google's automated approach to room calibration trumps Sonos's Trueplay speaker-tuning software, which requires users to walk around the room with a mobile device to take acoustical measures.
On the other hand, Google's “Smart Sound," powered by Google AI, draws from "thousands of different room configurations” learned into the machine by Google. And the thing keeps on learning when it lands in the home. If the speaker is moved, the tuning adjusts dynamically.
Here's what Azione had to say about the Google deal in a press release no doubt vetted by Google's expansive PR and legal teams:
Delivering high-quality audio and voice-activated personal assistant services, the Google Home portfolio is well-suited for both custom integration and DIY projects, easily integrating with more than 1,500 smart home devices from over 225 brands. Users can access more than 1 million actions to help to organize households, tackle everyday tasks, and present entertainment in a whole new way. Features include searching via Google; Voice Match; playing music, including via Bluetooth; music streaming via Spotify, Pandora and other popular services; hands-free phone calls; and local business search.
Google also approved this message by Azione prersident Richard Glikes: “Azione provides our vendor members access to established dealers whose thriving integration businesses provide exposure to affluent homeowners and early adopter technology enthusiasts. ... As our members embrace the latest voice control technologies, we are thrilled to have Google Home there with tools, resources, and profitable solutions to help dealers usher in the future of smart home interaction.”
According to the PR, Google Home will provide products, training and support to Azione members.
CE Pro's Jason Knott will have some meatier analysis next month after Azione's spring conference in Philadelphia.
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Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org
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