Amazon’s philosophy on the smart home — put Alexa in literally everything, even the most mundane of products — is pushing Google and its hardware partners to develop similar devices with very narrow use cases. Today, Lenovo announced its new Smart Clock, an essentially smaller version of its Smart Display that features Google Assistant.
It is mostly designed to tell you the time and get you up in the morning, but it also does a whole lot of other things, too: it can charge your devices, play music, and even be set up with a Google Assistant Routine specifically for sleeping, so your devices go on silent mode or turn off with a simple voice command. The device has a four-inch touchscreen and a fabric cover that looks basically identical to the material used on the Google Home Mini. It also has some neat customizable clock faces. Lenovo is pricing its Smart Clock at $80, and it’s scheduled to start shipping this spring.
It was just a year ago that Google even added the ability to set music alarms with Google Assistant, but the company is moving fast to compete with Amazon and lock customers into its smart home ecosystem. Google hopes that if you own a Chromecast and a Google Home, you might just consider buying Google Assistant smart products to fulfill all of your other needs.
The strategy, an effective one in other tech sectors, was first put into practice at massive scale in the smart home space by Amazon and its “Alexa everywhere” approach. But now Google is beginning to find its footing due to deep integrations between its hardware and the products of its partners, the Google Assistant, and the Android operating system.
Whether there’s a big market for smart clocks is kind of beside the point. Amazon released its own Echo Spot alarm clock with Alexa more than a year ago, and it’s since expanded its own Alexa lineup to include a minimalist wall clock that displays timers you’ve set with the voice assistant, in addition to the countless other third-party clocks that now use Alexa. To keep up, Google needs its Assistant to continue expanding to more devices, even if the standard consumer won’t really use it for much more than checking the time, setting alarms, and playing music.
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