Samsung-owned Harman International has just announced three new JBL Link Speakers, each with a voice activated speaker with Google Assistant built in. The company also revealed the Harmon Kardon Allure, which is an Alexa-enabled smart speaker with 360 degree sound. Which sounds a lot like what Sony announced just the other day. The Link speakers come in two portable sizes as well as a larger design. These can all be linked together for multi-room listening and also have Chromecast built in. The Allure will retail for $250, starting this winter. While the Link speakers will debut in the UK this fall.
Both Google and Amazon have been putting their respective assistants on more devices, lately. Google has plans to bring Assistant to upcoming Anker and Panasonic speakers and LG washing machines (umm… yes!) while Amazon has already linked up with Ulimate Ears’ line of Bluetooth speakers as well.
According to Harman:
“We’re excited, to integrate with Amazon Alexa to deliver a beautiful speaker with astounding audio coupled with all the intelligent features of Alexa,” said Michael Mauser, President, Lifestyle Audio Division at HARMAN. “Research shows the number one use of digital voice services is music streaming and Allure with its premium sound quality, iconic design, and exceptional voice-enabled technology, will produce a spectacular sound experience while delivering on our promise of elevating a connected life through smart technology.”
I wonder if there are too many smart speakers on the market right now. I am a firm believer in competition, but this seems like a bit much. Apple, Google, Amazon, Sony and now Samsung are all knee deep in the smart speaker business. It’s lucrative, of course, but with so many options it’s going to be hard for consumers to choose. Can you say decision fatigue?
First, you have to think about what kind of assistant you want in your device, and then you have to decide which device you actually want? I think this is where brand loyalty comes in. There are certain people who are only going to buy the brand that they always choose to buy. Which is great. And thus making it easier to make a decision. But what about the rest of us?
For example. I do like Apple products, but I’m not sure that I would purchase a HomePod. Why? Well, I’m not convinced it’s worth the money. I would never say that about their other products because I love them. But I’m just not convinced that this is going to be as big of a hit for them as they think. So for me, I’d like to wait and see how it plays out.
The Sony version of the HomePod might work just as well, and costs far less. I could be persuaded to purchase that one, if I was looking to save money. But I think that I would look at Google and Amazon when it comes to these kinds of products. Just because they seem to be “tried and tested”. But that being said, you are able to get Assistant and Alexa IN other brand speakers, like JBL, so I’m kind of torn. In this case, I think there are too many options. But I’m normally all for competition. It’s only going to be a matter of time before there are more and more options. Making it harder for us to decide.