Why Amazon Echo Challenger Google ‘Chirp’ Will Likely Fail

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There is a lot of news this week talking about the “Amazon Echo Killer” called “Google Chirp”. I’m once again reminded why I avoid product naming like the plague, my rule is “that the only thing everyone ever agrees with when it comes to a new name is that the person who came up with it is an idiot”. Chirp, really?!? But I doubt Jeff Bezos is staying awake nights because I think Google’s offering is likely to fail in the market.

Here is why.

No Product Successes

Think about it, what was the last truly successful Google consumer product? Google bought YouTube so that doesn’t count, and that takes you to Android where it pretty much created an iOS clone and gave it away for free. Nest is struggling and Google bought it anyway. Google+ is pretty much a joke now and it isn’t hardware, and Google Glass was handled so badly Google effectively set the entire head-mounted display effort back about a decade.

So where is the proof Google can actually build a successful product?

No Retail Power

Amazon is the strongest online retailer in the world—significantly ahead of any other firm in the US and only really challenged in China. Google has no retail presence or power. Yes, there is a Google app store but Google Play is infamous for not making app vendors anything close to what they make from Apple’s offering. So, running against Amazon would seem to be a fool’s game because—at least in terms of selling stuff they build—Google isn’t even on the same planet.

Marketing

In launching Echo, Amazon ran a broad mixed-media well-funded campaign. The big irony with Google (well other than that “do no evil” thing) is that it makes virtually all of its money from advertising and Google absolutely sucks at advertising. It is almost as if Google fundamentally doesn’t know how to do it or why to fund it. Granted, once in a long while it does something interesting, but it doesn’t last long and it typically is followed by really stupid stuff…or nothing. Amazon seems to know how to advertise. Well, they have to—they’re in retail. Google—despite making tons of money from advertising and having reasonably good analytics it sells to others—doesn’t appear to even be able to spell the word.

Attention Span

Amazon seems to build products and stick with them with the exception of the failed Fire Phone which clearly wasn’t well thought through. Google seems to love launching lots of products and then loses interest in them as it chases something else. Google has no attention span, seeming to move on once a product is launched. It often can take up to three years to mature a product in market with much of the work needed during the early parts of those years. Amazon has AWS, Kindle, and now Echo all of which were funded to success. After Google’s core offerings the list of products—particularly hardware products—which Google has launched (as opposed to bought as part of a merger) is almost non-existent, and when was the last time you saw a product launched from a company that Google did buy?

Wrapping Up: There Is No Foundation for Success

Google hasn’t demonstrated the ability to bring out a product like Echo and the name “Chirp” doesn’t exactly suggest a well thought-through offering (Granted, it’s a codename so hopefully Google will come up with something better for the actual product). Google’s history of poor attention span, poor execution, poor marketing skills and funding, and stream of failures suggests a firm that likely needs to do some major changes before even trying to launch a new product—let alone firing a shot across the bow of a firm executing much better, like Amazon. Google could create a cheap Echo knock-off but given how inexpensive Echo is already that doesn’t have the same potential as a strategy as it did against high-margin Apple.

In short, while I think “Chirp” will help validate the Echo segment, I don’t expect Google to prevail against its own inability to execute—never mind prevailing against Amazon.

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About Author

As President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, Rob provides regional and global companies with guidance in how to create credible dialogue with the market, target customer needs, create new business opportunities, anticipate technology changes, select vendors and products, and practice zero dollar marketing. For over 20 years Rob has worked for and with companies like Microsoft, HP, IBM, Dell, Toshiba, Gateway, Sony, USAA, Texas Instruments, AMD, Intel, Credit Suisse First Boston, ROLM, and Siemens.

  • star1234

    I used to be a freelance namer for Landor in NY…Agree Chirp is wimpy…Remember the old political slogan…A Choice Not an Echo…even if they played off that with A Chirp Not an Echo…no one remembers the original and it did not have anything to do with this anyhow. Chirp rhymes with Twerp–now there’s a sale. A Chirp is a sound a distant car makes. Or a songbird. Not good. I don’t even know what Echo is or does, but I want it more. Echo makes you think of big vast places, a booming response… Anyhow…as for the advertising slap at Google, their Blogger is superior in my view to WordPress…Everyone somehow knows about Google despite their advertising clumsiness…so this Chirp thing may be a ripple…like the Apple Watch. I just wish Google would give me my ad dollars–somehow they changed their algorithm so they get to keep the money. That made ME chirp.

  • CQueezy

    I had to log back in so I could refute basically everything in this “article”. You set the tone for this “article” when you not only called Android an iOS clone (when the opposite is far closer to reality) but also labeled it as a failure when they have dominated the world marketshare and grown it every quarter. Kind of an idiotic stance to try and refute, no?
    I also see you conveniently managed to forget Chromecast, which has been massively successful. As of September of last year, they sold 20 million units, and that was before Chromecast Audio was even released. They also may have bought Youtube, but you can not deny they have made it insanely profitable, both with its integration into their ads, and its integration into their Play Music store, which has also been successful.
    Also, if you were any kind of a legitimate tech journalist, you would know that Google Glass was never released to the public and is still in active development. There was even a leak of the beta version seen a few months ago sporting a much sleeker design.
    While Amazon may be a huge online marketplace, saying that Google has no retail front at all is asinine and incorrect. Every Best Buy in the US has a small Google section selling chromecasts and showing off Android Wear devices as well as nexus products. Plus, their online store has gotten a ton more traffic since Chromecast and Nexus 5x, 6p, and 9 have come out.
    As for the Chirp, or rather what it will actually be called which is Home, they have a huge advantage in voice recognition, software integration with their existing app ecosystem, and in house hardware development.
    So in closing, next time you decide to write an article, please make sure it is filled with facts and not ridiculous easily disproven statements. How you are able to consult for anyone with misinformation like that is astounding to me.

    • Laven Pillay

      Well said, sir !

  • Laven Pillay

    Are you being serious with some of this stuff ?
    >> that takes you to Android where it pretty much created an iOS clone and gave it away for free
    Android has, to my knowledge, about a 2 YEAR lead on iOS !
    Is it just “fanboi-ism” that made you say that, or do you have some information we do not ?

  • Laven Pillay

    >> Google+ is pretty much a joke now
    I find it incredibly useful and I know loads of other tech-folk who use Google+ for all their “non-friendly-social” postings, cos its more professional, and less filled with “noise” than other social networking sites.
    So…..what does that mean for your “is a joke” comment ?
    Are you really a critical tech journalist ? Or just writing about “things I like, in a way I like, from a point of view I like” ?

  • Laven Pillay

    >> Google seems to love launching lots of products and then loses interest in them as it chases something else.
    This may totally be true – and that would be because Google is not only interested in Making Money (which obviously is a big factor for any business), but also for improving the tech world in various ways.
    Its has succeeded in doing that.
    What you call “losing interest”, can also be described as “shuffling out a lesser project, for a more important project”. As a developer I have to do that ALL the time – stop working on something I’m really enjoying, because the company needs me to work on something else, maybe mission critical, or for a different audience, or for a larger payment.
    As a tech journalist, you should consider these things.

  • Laven Pillay

    Oh, and just by the by.
    Have you heard the word “twitter” ? Its fairly popular, yeah ?
    Chirping is related to that.
    People make connections like that easily.
    Maybe not so stupid after all ?