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Sundar Pichai still sanguine over voice-based computing’s erosion of Google’s ad model

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai has left Wall Street analysts unconvinced that he has a handle on voice-based computing following a fourth quarter earnings call that was long on questions but short on answers.

Edgy investors have been grilling Google executives as to how they intend to meet the challenge posed by an explosion of voice-enabled devices led by Amazon’sAlexa which allow people to bypass Google’s services when venturing on.

Downplaying such concerns Google CEO Sundar Pichai claimed to be ‘comfortable’ with the way the sector was playing out but offered no detail on what practical measures he would implement to ensure its ad business will be compatible with a voice activated world.

Instead Pichai is staking his company’s future on the continued proliferation of screens, betting that consumers will still prefer to interact via panels than by talking in most situations. He said: “We think about it from a long-term perspective, So I see more opportunity than challenge when I think about voice search."

Pichai’s sanguine attitude wasn’t reflected by much of his audience however, mindful of the fact that Amazon has leverage to expand the sector at Google’s expense by generating sales revenue directly rather than rely upon advertising.

Adopting an if you can’t beat them, join them mentality Google has pushed its own Home speaker utilizing its natural language and speech recognition expertise but even here it risks eating into its own ad business.

Pichai earned a healthy $300m in pay and stock over the course of 2015.