LG’s Hub takes on Amazon Echo and home robotics market

by Jennifer Kent | Jan. 6, 2017

The personal assistant device market took off in 2016. Google Home joined Amazon Echo in time for the holiday sales season, and Amazon sold out of its Echo and Tap models in the run-up to Christmas.

We expect this market to grow substantially in 2017, with increasing consumer adoption rates and new market entrants. With its announcement at CES of Hub, a smart robotic personal assistant speaker, LG is the next to enter this space.  

To compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home LG needs to get to market quickly, before the space inevitably gets crowded.  Both Amazon and Google benefit from larger ecosystems and other competitive advantages that will be compelling to potential buyers.  Amazon offers discounted music streaming for Echo owners and Google has a search capability that cannot be beat.

Still, Hub has a few unique features of its own.

  • The device is not just a smart speaker and microphone – it also has a visual display to show images. Hearing the weather forecast is simply not as compelling as seeing the radar.
  • Hub is powered by Alexa – and so can likely perform much of what Amazon’s devices can do, including integrate with other smart home devices. However, LG is a manufacturer of its own line of smart home devices, and the Hub acts as a command and control center for LG’s smart appliances. Though details are scare, some benefits to the user experience could be assumed for native LG Hub-LG smart appliances integration.
  • Most notably, the Hub is also a robot. It swivels its head, has a face that displays a range of emotions, and has a camera that allows it to distinguish different family members’ faces for personalized greetings.  U.S. households have yet to adopt home robotics with anthropomorphic features – vacuum cleaners are by far the leader of the home robotics market. Can the Hub or devices like it make a breakthrough, or will it be perceived as too invasive and spark privacy concerns instead?  Given the uncertainties of the home robotics market, LG makes a smart play by not putting all of its eggs in the consumer robotics space. The company also announced at CES a series of larger robots for mowing grass, guiding travelers through airports, and industrial cleaning.

Parks Associates’ industry report, Transforming the Smart Home User Experience, assesses leading personal assistant devices, evaluates the potential of voice control to shake up various connected home markets, presents consumer preferences for smart product interfaces, and forecasts sales of connected devices with embedded voice-control through 2021.

Further Reading:

Next: Amazon’s Alexa: The Talk of CES 2017
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