Why are the top tech companies in the world spending billions of dollars investing in voice assistants and smart speakers that lose them money every quarter? Amazon reportedly has 10,000 employees working on Alexa. Tear-down analyses suggest that Google Home Mini is sold at a loss every time it is discounted, which is frequently. Samsung has introduced a dedicated button on its phones for Bixby which consumers regularly remap to use Google Assistant instead. Microsoft is no longer trying to compete with Alexa or Google Assistant, but is still investing in Cortana.

Each of these companies, and others, have different reasons for their continued investment. Some are attempting to protect a dominant franchise, such as online commerce in Amazon’s case, and search advertising for Google. Others are trying to break into spaces where they have been excluded, such as digital content distribution, display advertising, search, and commerce. A couple have both scenarios in mind.

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