“Hey Siri, thanks for the smaller phone, but how about an Echo-like smart speaker?” Shara Tibken wonders for CNET. “Thursday’s a big day in tech. Apple’s iPhone SE and 9.7-inch iPad Pro go on sale. Also available are the latest products in Amazon’s Echo family of smart speakers: the portable Amazon Tap and speaker attachment Echo Dot. For many of you, it’s Amazon’s products and its digital voice assistant Alexa that are the big draw.”

“That’s because the Pringles can-shaped Echo speaker has been a surprise hit due to its ability to let you ask about the weather, play NPR news, set reminders, add items to your grocery list and even order pizza for delivery,” Tibken writes. “There will be an estimated 20.8 billion connected items, including cars and appliances, by 2020, according to market researcher Gartner. Thanks to the Echo and Alexa, Amazon is already playing a central role in that transition in people’s homes. Apple finds itself behind the pack even though it launched Siri before digital assistants came into vogue.”

“Apple will need to work hard to catch up. With the Echo Dot, any speaker can gain access to Alexa,” Tibken writes. “So far, Apple just has HomeKit, a platform for developers to integrate smart home devices into its iOS mobile software. Typically, the company releases a fully formed product that combines hardware, software and services. In the case of HomeKit, it’s counting on partners for the products. ‘It’s such a departure from how Apple normally does things,’ Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson said. ‘It’s an experiment on Apple’s part I’d argue hasn’t gone that well.'”

“Apple could supercharge its efforts with an Echo-like device that ties everything together,” Tibken writes. “‘It is inevitable,’ Dave Friedman, CEO of Ayla Networks, said about Apple creating an Echo competitor.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There’ll be no sugarcoating this from these quarters. As we wrote just two days ago:

Something along the lines of Amazon Echo is what Apple should have done if run by competent, forward-thinking management. When Apple finally does do their version of Amazon Echo (and they will get around to doing such a product eventually) they will rightly be called a follower. The company had all of the ingredients to make their own Echo, before Amazon, except for the vision, it seems.