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TECHCRUNCH

Hidden amongst the 70 or so announcements Amazon made at today’s big Alexa event was one key hidden presence. Google’s offerings loomed large over much of the news flowing out from the big event.

It’s easy to understand why, of course. Assistant and Home have steadily been making up ground on Amazon over the last couple of years. In fact, just in time for today’s event, a study dropped noting that Google Home Mini was the best selling smart speaker for Q2 of this year, dethroning Amazon’s popular Dot.

As one of the first products unveiled at the event, the newly refreshed Dot certainly bore the mark of Google’s influence. A new, fabric covered design with improved sound promised to put the low cost smart speaker on better footing against the Home Mini. It’s the first big hardware redesign for the product.

While Amazon also beat Google to the punch with the Echo Show, the refreshed version of the product also bears the mark of Google’s influence on the space. The original Show was clearly about function over form. This year at CES, however, Google upped the ante for display-enabled category with its third-party Smart Displays. While the new Show has likely been in the works for some time, it’s hard not to see the influence of products like Lenovo’s.

Amazon does, however, deserve credit for not simply swiping from Google. The company is clearly interested in taking its own approach to the smart assistant category. Rather than, say, introducing a Google Max/HomePod competitor, the company introduced the elements (Sub, Link, et al.) for building a home stereo system, piece by piece. The Echo Auto, meanwhile, finds the company offering a plug and play solution designed to compete with the likes of Android Android.

The rivalry between Amazon and Google that resulted in YouTube being pulled from the Echo Show is clearly a driving force behind many of the decisions on display at today’s event. And it’s clear that things are only going to heat up from here.