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Google Turns to Qualcomm to Drive Voice Software Uptake

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Jul. 31 2019, Updated 3:56 p.m. ET

Google moves to simplify integration of Assistant into devices

Google (GOOGL) has teamed up with Qualcomm (QCOM) to develop a platform aimed at encouraging developers to integrate its Assistant voice software into their products. Assistant is an artificial intelligence–driven software that can operate devices such as smartphones and smart speakers when users simply speak out voice commands.

The platform, which Google has built in partnership with Qualcomm, is designed to make it easier for manufacturers of audio earbuds and headsets to integrate Assistant into their products to allow users to control them with voice commands. The goal for Google is to drive uptake of its Assistant voice software.

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Voice software business

The Assistant software is the brain behind Google Home smart speakers. Amazon (AMZN) has its own voice software called Alexa, which powers its own Echo brand of smart speakers and has also been adopted by outside developers. Amazon told The Verge in January that more than 100 million Alexa-powered devices have been sold globally.

Google’s peers in the Internet search engine market Baidu (BIDU) and Yandex (YNDX) have also built voice software as they seek to unlock new revenue streams. Baidu’s DuerOS voice software has been adopted in more than 200 million devices around the world.

Making money off Assistant software

Google executive Sridhar Ramaswamy said in 2017 that advertising and e-commerce are some of the avenues through which Google could profit from its Assistant technology, according to a Recode report. So far, several retailers have adopted Google’s Assistant technology to support voice shopping on their digital stores. Walmart (WMT), in its ongoing arms race with Amazon in the retail market, added support for voice shopping through Assistant last month.

Google’s advertising revenue rose 15.4% year-over-year to $30.7 billion in the first quarter.

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