Without a visual interface, what happens to Google's ad business?
"You basically can't deliver ads when it comes to a voice query," said Lightspeed Venture Partners' Alex Taussig, who invests in consumer internet start-ups. "If I ask for the nearest coffee shop from my office, you can give me one answer and that's probably not an ad. So it is very hard for Google to monetize these product searches."
This isn't the first time Google has been forced to reckon with a changing computing paradigm.
When consumers moved to mobile, Google faced the risk of so-called vertical search, or industry-specific queries. Rather than going to Google.com, smartphone users would open the Kayak app to search travel or Yelp to find restaurants. But Google survived and thrived by populating its Android operating system with apps for calendar, maps, YouTube and photos. Even if people were doing less search, they were still sticking with Google and serving up all that valuable data.
Now, with voice becoming the next emerging platform, Google has to again make sure it doesn't get left behind, whether in the home or the automobile.
According to a report last month from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, Amazon controls more than three-quarters of the market for home automation devices and Google accounts for most of the rest.
With that kind of deficit and with the explosive growth in the home assistant market, Google is in jeopardy of losing users who have previously counted on the company's search engine, calendar and other features.