The Week in Smart Home: Google overtakes Amazon in smart speaker race

OK...just in Europe, but could Alexa be about to lose its dominance?

Google overtakes Amazon in smart home

Welcome back to the The Week in Smart Home (codename WISH), where we look at what’s been causing headlines in the world of connected living.

It’s been a hectic week over at The Ambient, where a slew of new devices have been reviewed – as the biggest names in tech grapple over taking their place within our lives.

So let’s not waste time and get right into the headlines that matter:

Google is selling more speakers than Amazon – in Europe at least

Week in smart home: Google overtakes Amazon in smart home

The tide has turned in the smart home – that’s according to a new IDC study which has Google now shipping more smart speakers in Europe than Amazon. Google Home devices accounted for 45.1% of smart speakers shipped, compared to 41.8% Echos.

So what’s going on? Well, according to IDC’s analysts, Google is doing better at expanding Assistant to new countries and adopting new languages, which makes Europe the rich tapestry it is. That might go someway to explaining the company’s newfound dominance.

However, IDC doesn’t expect the 2019 sales to go to Google – and slates that tipping point for 2022.

"Google had a stellar quarter and was the clear winner in the first quarter, reaching an important milestone in Europe," said Antonio Arantes, senior research analyst.

"Google continues to expand to new countries and support new native languages at a faster pace than Amazon. This is also contributing to strengthening its position in voice assistant platforms.

IDC believes the smart home market as a whole will grow 21% year-on-year, and to reach 183.9 million in 2023, with video entertainment and smart speakers being the two main categories in this space.

While you're here, why not check out our guide to the best smart home devices.

Amazon's keeping your data forever, hope that's OK

Week in smart home: Google overtakes Amazon in smart home

Amazon has been trying to re-affirm itself as serious on privacy in recent weeks, with new features for recording deletion being added to Alexa. However, a response to a letter from Delaware Democratic senator Chris Coons has shown that the company keeps recordings not manually deleted forever – and is struggling to even remove ones customers have requested to be removed.

You can read our full explainer – and our guide on how you can try and remove Alexa voice recordings…and hope that Amazon may (or may not) act on your request.

Amazon Echo Show 5 verdict is in

Week in smart home: Google overtakes Amazon in smart home

We also got our hands on Amazon’s latest smart speaker this week – and it’s fair to say we’re fans. The 5-inch Echo Show is a more discreet version of the popular be-screened smart speaker – with a new control panel for controlling Alexa with your fingertip, not just your voice.

You can read our full review of the Echo Show 5, and make sure you check out our ultimate guide to using Alexa, so you can get the most from your setup.

Another week another leak...

Week in smart home: Google overtakes Amazon in smart home

More security woes for the smart home this week, as researchers found that Zipato hubs could be exploited to open smart locks – if attackers were on the same Wi-Fi network.

The full report is over at TechCrunch, but the more worrying thing is that Zipato had some seriously big clients which were installing smart locks across large buildings and projects. It shows how as smart home tech rolls out more widely, exploits will start to affect large scale buildings, making complex attacks more appealing.

Arlo patches big security flaw

Week in smart home: Google overtakes Amazon in smart home

Arlo has patched an exploit in the company’s base stations, which could allow attackers access to the camera. Re-assuringly, a would-be spy would need physical access to the hub, and access to your network – which would presumably be chief among your worries. However, a patch has been released to fix the floor, reports ThreatPost.

“Arlo base stations have two networking interfaces: one for the internal camera network and one for connection to an external LAN, such as a home network. If an attacker is connected to the same LAN as an Arlo base station, they can access the interface used for the internal camera network,” a spokesman said.

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