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Examining Sony’s Love for Google Assistant

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Feb. 19 2018, Updated 2:20 p.m. ET

Sony headphones getting a Google Assistant upgrade

Sony (SNE) is gearing up to bring a portfolio of its older headphones to the fast lane of technology. The electronics giant recently announced that several of its older noise-canceling headphones would be made to support Google Assistant with a software update. Google Assistant, Alphabet’s (GOOGL) voice-based digital assistant, is the equivalent of Amazon’s (AMZN) Alexa, Microsoft’s (MSFT) Cortana, and Apple’s Siri. Google Assistant technology underpins Google Home, the smart speaker from Google that is competing with Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s HomePod for market share.

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Sony building modern Google Assistant-based devices

Optimizing older Sony headphones for Google Assistant is expected to enhance users’ experience, allowing users to search the Internet by just saying a word. Sony has also teamed up with Google to create modern voice-enabled mobile devices.

Speakers with a screen command higher prices

Google has teamed up with Sony, LG Electronics, Lenovo (LNVGY), and other partners to develop smart speakers with a display. Amazon’s smart speakers with a display command higher prices. Google may be hoping that expanding into the market for smart speakers with a screen could help it grow its share of the market faster and boost its hardware profit margins.

Google hardware sales are reported under its Other Revenue segment, which grew about 38% year-over-year to $4.7 billion in 4Q17, as shown in the chart above. Cloud computing sales are included in the figure.

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