Jefferson Graham previews the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where new smart home products using technology from Google, Amazon and Apple will be unveiled.
LOS ANGELES — Hey, Google, what’s up with CES this year?
The annual consumer electronics show has been dominated by Asian tech giants Samsung, LG and Sony in recent years, along with a trade show floor featuring thousands of startups hoping lightning strikes with some Las Vegas-style luck.
What you historically don’t see at CES are the U.S.-based tech giants Apple, Amazon or Google, which tend to show off their new products at their own heavily produced media events later in the year.
But CES 2018, which kicks off with events Sunday, will have a big presence from Google as it continues its push to take on Amazon’s Echo connected speaker.
The Las Vegas Monorail, which takes delegates to and from CES and city hotels, is splattered with a huge “Hey Google,” advertisement, one of the two “wake words,” people use to pose queries to the Google Assistant, most notably on the Google Home speaker. Google also has a large “Hey Google,” booth right outside the Las Vegas Convention Center.
In 2017, Alphabet-owned Google — which makes most of its money off digital ads — doubled down on hardware, rolling out the Google Pixel 2 phone, the Google Pixel Buds earbuds, and most significantly, those Google Home speakers advertised so heavily this past holiday season.
Home competes with Echo, which Amazon said was its best-selling product overall during the holidays, specifically the pint-sized, $49.99 version, the Dot. Google’s answer to the Dot, the Mini, was aggressively priced for $29 at big-box stores such as Walmart, with cash gift cards for as much as $25 for purchasers. (It now sells for $49.99 again.)
At CES, Google is expected to show off using the Google Assistant to turn on and off televisions, other branded speakers and smart home products, in addition to general queries about the weather and trivia.