The Google Home brand is much more than a personal assistant competing with Amazon's Echo. Google Home is an experience that encompasses a package of products and services for the home. Before looking in-depth at the Google Home brand, lets take a moment to look at the effectiveness of Google's structure as a whole though.
Ask a random person, any person, what products and services come to mind when they hear the word "Apple". Giving this a try myself: Macbook, iPad, iPhone, iWatch, and Apple TV. Now let's go online and see how that compares. Looking at Apple.com, it is surprising to see that the content and order are almost completely consistent.
Now let's see what products and services come to mind with the word "Google". Google Search, Google Drive, Gmail, Google Glass ...umm Google Home, Google Wifi ...umm. Oh yeah, they just released a phone called Google Pixel. I know there are more because they did self-driving cars. They have their Google Maps. There are other applications that go with Google Drive but the specific names are not coming to mind for some reason... but this is taking longer than it should so let's just look up Google's products to see how we did.
Since Google.com is dedicated to the Google Search product, things were not immediately obvious. I eventually did a search for "Google Products" and found their products page. It took a few minutes to study the page. Many of the product images consisted of a phone and their differences had to be studied. The products were organized according to some sort of action statement as well.
Confusing to say the least! Let's attempt to clean things up.
The fewer things a consumer has to remember, the easier it is going to be for them to recall those things. But at the same time, you can't abstract things so much that all meaning is lost either. Common knowledge really. Lets attempt to restructure Google's products and services as seen by a consumer - without worrying about who runs what at Google currently.
Google, Google Mobile, Google Home, Google Business, Google Ventures, and Google Labs.
Google Search, Google Chrome, Gmail, Google Play, Google Maps, Google Translate, Google News, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, Google Photos, Google Keep, Google Scholar, and other generic applictions.
Google Mobile (Mobile Hardware)
Google Pixel, Google ??? (Tablet), Google Chromebook, Google Daydream View, Android, and others.
Google Home (Hardware, Software, and Services for Home)
GTV (formerly YouTube TV), Google Home Command Center (New product), Google Home Personal Assistant (Speaker), Google Chromecast, Google Watch (formerly NEST), Google Watch Indoor Camera, Google Watch Outdoor Camera, Google Watch Thermostat, Google Watch SmartPlug (New Product - device control), Google Wifi, Google Plus, Google Hangouts, Google Express, and others.
Google Business (Hardware, Software, and Services for Business)
Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google AdWords, Google AdSense, Google Analytics, Google Domains, Google Finance, and others.
Google Ventures (Acquired Hardware, Software, and Services)
YouTube, Nest, Waze, and others not exclusively sporting the Google brand.
Google Labs (Research and Prototyped Hardware, Software, and Services)
All things research, experimental, beta, and start-up.
Well, that's a start. Will some people find fault in this restructure? I would hope so since it was constructed in under an hour, but that is not the take away from this. The takeaway is that consumers are loyal to brands that have served them well in the past, but they are not going to dig through a pile of products to see if you have what they need. It needs to be handed to them on a silver platter.
Imagine that a consumer is interested in buying a virtual assistant but knows nothing about the Google Home Speaker or Amazon's Echo. Should the salesperson walk them over to the two devices sitting side-by-side and compare apples to apples? Who knows what the customer will decide. Now, if the Google Home speaker was sitting on a Google Home endcap, the conversation suddenly becomes: "This is what Google Home offers..." They may not even make it to the Amazon Echo before the customer is ready to purchase. The fight between the two products suddenly becomes unfair because Google Home products work together within the Google Home package. Even if the consumer is only interested in a virtual assistant, he knows the Google Home speaker is part of something much bigger should he decide to expand in the future.
We also need to look at the google.com webpage. This page has always been historically clean, but that does not mean it shouldn't provide a path to all things google. Currently, the upper-right corner displays "Gmail", "Images", the "Apps" dropdown, and "Sign in". When clicking the "Images" button, the search bar is simply expanded to contain multiple search icons and the logo is changed. Nothing that can't be implemented into the search bar by default. The "Google Search" and "I'm Feeling Lucky" buttons are not really useful and more for nostalgic purposes but we can still improve them to make them useful without changing a thing visually.
To improve the functionality of Google.com without messing with its purpose and traditional search look, we can slightly alter the upper-right corner content. As shown in the image below, we would have "Search", "Home", "Business", "Mobile", and the "Apps" dropdown. Google.com defaults to the search tab (they dont have to actually look like tabs). When the search tab is active, the "App" dropdown displays all of the apps related to "Google" as shown in the new structure we designed above - this includes Gmail. When the "Home" tab is clicked, the page displays the splash-page featuring all of Google Home's products and services. Its important to realize that "Google.Home" or "GoogleHome.com" would essentially take you to the Google.com page with the Home tab selected. Same goes for the Business tab (Google.Business or GoogleBusiness.com) and Mobile tab (Google.Mobile or GoogleMobile.com). The "App" dropdown essentially responds and changes based on the tab selected. For example, click on mobile and the icons might show as "Pixel", "???(Tablet)", "Chromebook", "DayDream View", "Android", etc. Clicking on one of these icons would open that product or service page up into a new browser tab and switch over to that tab. Its important not to overwrite the original tab as people should be using it as often as possible. This setup and structure packages Google's products and services into something much easier for consumers to understand and identify by memory. It also makes the Google homepage more intuitive and informative - giving users a number of new reasons to actually visit Google.com instead of just searching directly from the address bar.
Another improvement that can be made to the page is the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button. The goal of this button is to encourage users to visit the google.com page more often, increase ad revenue, and promote acquired ventures owned by google. When hovering the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button, a random splash-screen (that plays well with the Google logo, search bar, and two buttons) will show. Un-hover the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button and the splash-screen disappears. Ad based splash-screens will run off "Click and Impressions" and will need to be approved by a Google Ad team to ensure that Google agrees with the product, service, and quality of the ad itself. Users who are signed-in can go into settings and select specific splash-screen categories that interest them. Splash-screens should rarely, if ever, be displayed to a signed-in user more than once. People may find it useful to play group games where what pops up determines a certain action as you go around the table or something. The goal is to actually make it fun while increasing ad revenue and promoting acquired google ventures. Splash-screens can also be educational, brain-teasers, and many other things. Personally, I could sit there for hours hovering and un-hovering to see what comes up. Oh, and if you click the button, it will open a new tab related to the displayed splash-screen. This splash-screen system should portray to consumers that Google is still actually working on and improving its search system everyday.
Now that we modified the effectiveness of Google's overall structure, lets take a closer look at improving Google Home so that its package of products lives up to the name.
Complete control of media in the home has escaped every tech company out there. Satellite and cable companies control the primary stream of live TV, while secondary devices such as XBox, AppleTV, and Chromecast control past content through third-party services. Its a fragmented system where consumers have to deal with a handful of bills and switch between devices and services based on the content they want to watch.
In the early 2000's, Microsoft was in a prime position to take over complete control of the living room. There were rumors that Microsoft had a set-top box in the works, their devices were headed into a cross-compatible form, and they even began branding their own hardware devices - an extremely important move in terms of consumer loyalty. This was likely somewhat attributed to the proposal that I delivered to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in 2008 called "Digital Media Center", but unfortunately no set-top box ever came through and Microsoft began focusing on XBox as their living room device. A big mistake on Microsoft's part because the XBox will always be known as a gaming system first. My parents / grandparents would never buy one unless one of its features cured cancer. Non-gamers and Playstation fanboys are also unlikely to pick up an Xbox for media. Microsoft still has the potential to dominate in the home but their execution of new devices hasn't been the best.
Amazon is another company who could try to step in and dominate the living room but because their primary concern is with selling products, anything with potential would likely be injected with many attempts to sell products to consumers. Overall the brand just doesn't have that home automation feel to it. I'll buy my products from Amazon all day long but letting them control everything in my home, I think not.
AppleTV seems to be going in the right direction in terms of software but implementing all of these features into a costly TV will likely exclude many from going in that direction. Is Apple the type of brand that could take over devices in the home? Definitely, but it would be a long battle with Microsoft and an expensive TV is the worst way to go about it. The TV is most likely being specifically developed for Apple fanboys.
Since this project is about expanding the Google Home brand, lets look at how Google can dominate media and devices in the home.
Disclaimer: The following expanded realization of the Google Home brand, its products, and services are purely conceptual and not driven by actual ideas or development taking place at Google. Product images are intentional conceptualizations derived from other products and not real.
The Google Home Command Center intelligently improves entertainment and control in the home. It introduces Google's all new GTV internet-broadcast service. Elegantly simplifies communication, connection, and search. Effortlessly manages smart devices and digital content with you in mind.
Google's all new internet-driven GTV broadcast service (formerly YouTubeTV) delivers a channel lineup of your favorite music, movies, shows, and internet content to all eligible devices in the home. Flip between a network channel's live broadcast and past content with the press of a button. Enjoy all-new exclusive broadcasting channels from XBox, Nintendo, Blizzard, Marvel, RedBull, and many others. Easily manage Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, and other premium content channels under one bill. Take advantage of newly designed YouTube channels that make online video search effortless. Manage and access purchased and premium content on-the-go through the Google Home Real-time Interactive App. Your media experience just got a whole lot better with Google Home.
Enjoy over 2000 channels including:
- Local channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and more)
- GTV Music channels*
- GTV Movie channels*
- GTV Exclusive channels (Xbox, Nintendo, Blizzard, Marvel, RedBull, and many others)*
- Premium channels (Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and more)**
- GTV YouTube channels (Trending, YouTube Education, and hundreds more)***
- GTV Customizable Stream channel (YouTube Live, Twitch, Facebook Live, and more)****
- Pause and rewind live broadcasts.
*Archive Mode content may require subscription, purchase, or approved proof-of-purchase **Subscriptions may apply *** 24/7 live broadcast mode is subject to downtime on some channels. ****Not all streaming services supported
Google Home makes proven communication services smarter. Enjoy text, talk, video, email, and social media services without compromising privacy. Control how, when, and where notifications happen for each account. Move pubic calls to the privacy of your phone at a moments notice. Even keep a secure record of past communication if desired. Google Home is dedicated to making interactions easy and secure for you and your family.
- Free text, talk, and video communication between Google Home contacts*
- Control notifications and move active communication between eligible devices.
- Record talk and video conversations with ease.
*An active internet connection is required. Carrier charges may accrue with limited data service. Some services only available on eligible devices.
Google Home makes it easy to connect with other devices. Add Google Wifi to perfect the wireless connection in your home. Use Google Chromecast to connect additional TVs to your Google Home system. Simultaneously send commands from any part of the home with the Google Home Personal Assistant. Connect to an external hard drive for expanded storage. To popular gaming systems and external audio equipment for effortless streaming and sound. Google Home can even connect to personal computers, tablets, and mobile phones for screen sharing across devices. Google Home really brings your devices together to work better for you.
Google Home is all about control. The Google Home Remote makes it easy to surf through the GTV internet channel lineup to find what you want to watch. It supports voice input and private audio output for communication and commands. The Google Home Real-time Interactive App mobilizes your experience, provides additional information and statistics, and enhances control without interrupting your on-screen experience. The Google Home Personal Assistant expands voice control and interaction to other rooms in the house. Google Home works for the whole family, at the same time, and within the privacy of each users account.
- Google Home Remote
- Supports voice commands and calls
- Supports earbud and headset connection for privacy and quiet modes
- Includes remoteBeep so that the remote never goes missing again
- Google Home Real-time Interactive App
- Supports voice commands and voice / video calls and streaming
- Supports earbud and headset connection for privacy and quiet modes
- Improves real-time text and touch interaction for easy messaging, search, and video rating / comments
- Provides real-time "additional information" related to current entertainment
- Google Home Personal Assistant
- Enables voice control and virtual assistant interaction with the console