Google cuts off third-party smart displays as Assistant support dwindles

Google’s decision to end support for its third-party devices doesn’t mean they’ll stop working, but it is indicative of what’s been happening over the past few years: they just won’t receive any new features or updates.

Discontinuing updates on third-party products not only seems like a way for the company to cut off a line of products that have been largely replaced by the Nest Hub (which may soon be usurped by the upcoming Pixel tablet), but it’s also a sign of Google distancing itself from yesteryear’s Assistant and focusing more on generative AI technology like Bard.

In a memo obtained by CNBC last month, Google Assistant head Sissie Hsiao informed workers that the team’s engineering vice president, Amar Subramanya, would swap over to leading the Bard team. It also indicated that the division would take on more of a supporting role as Google continues to work on Bard.

“As the Bard teams continue this work, we want to ensure we continue to support and execute on the opportunities ahead,” Hsiao said in the memo viewed by CNBC. “This year, more than ever, we have been focused on delivery with impact to our users.”

Meanwhile, a report from The Information from October had previously revealed that Google was investing less in Assistant products for cars and other third-party devices that use the software, including TVs, headphones, smart home speakers, smart glasses, and smartwatches. Hsiao reportedly told one colleague that Android Auto only makes around $1 billion in annual revenue, which is barely enough to make a dent in the $257.6 billion Google made last year. That’s why she may shift some people away from the initiative.

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