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Sony's smart display is a no-show at Google I/O

At Google's developer conference, it certainly looks like Sony's version of a smart speaker with a screen won't be ready to launch with the rest.

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Google showed off the prototypes and finished smart displays at I/O, but Sony's version of the product isn't here. 

Andrew Gebhart/CNET

We now know that three different brands will debut Google Assistant-equipped smart displays in stores this July. At one point, we expected that to see four of them. The Sony Smart Display is curiously absent from the Google I/O Developer Conference, though, and it hasn't been mentioned in any of Google's announcements regarding smart displays at the show.

At CES in January, Google previewed a new line of products called smart displays. Basically a smart speaker with a screen, the devices are slated for a summer release. Unlike the Google Home smart speaker, Google won't put its name on the products. Instead, it said in its initial announcements that it was partnering with four major manufacturers -- LG, Lenovo, JBL and Sony -- to give customers a variety of options.

Fast-forward to the second week of May and the Google I/O Developer Conference in Mountain View, California. Google announced the first smart displays will hit the market in July and showed off a few new features for the devices. Google's prominently featuring both the 8- and 10-inch Lenovo Smart Displays, the JBL Link View and the LG ThinQ WK9. The as-of-yet unnamed Sony smart display is nowhere to be found.

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It wasn't at CES either, but neither was LG's, and even the models from Lenovo and JBL were still prototypes that could only handle prepackaged demos. Now, the rest of the products are finished and LG's has joined the group. That just leaves out Sony.

Oddly, at a session discussing the development of the smart displays, Robert Ginda, Google's engineering lead of Android Things, mentioned their partnership with three OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). Ginda has been working on the smart displays from the start, and he implicitly left Sony off of the road map.

It's possible Sony is just waiting to unveil its model at a moment when it could stand out from the crowd. We don't actually know what happened to the Sony smart display. When asked for comment, a Google representative simply said, "we're showing the smart displays that we're launching in July and have nothing else to announce at this time." A Sony rep confirmed the company is still working with Google "on the smart display concept" but didn't offer any other details. 

At the very least, it doesn't look like Sony's smart display will be ready to hit the market when the first models go on sale.

Updated May 11, 2018 with Sony's comment. 

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