“First there was Amazon’s Echo, which I characterized as an attempt to advance home automation through Amazon’s Alexa AI. Then there was Google Home, first unveiled last year at Google IO,” Mark Hibben writes for Seeking Alpha. “Now comes Microsoft’s Invoke, powered by Cortana and built by Samsung.”

“On the hardware side, there isn’t much that the companies can do to create product differentiation. Microsoft tries by enlisting the help of Harmon Kardon, owned by Samsung, to create a miniature speaker with better sound. Harmon Kardon’s involvement may have helped, but this isn’t about sound quality,” Hibben writes. “This is a battle between AIs, whose artificial thoughts bounce around literally thousands of servers somewhere in the Cloud. The smart speakers themselves are just a way to get the AI into your home so that you’ll keep using it even after you put down your smartphone, tablet, or AI-powered laptop.”

Microsoft Invoke

“Microsoft’s need for a smart speaker is especially acute, since it doesn’t have a smartphone platform of significance. That may explain Invoke’s… ability to make and receive Skype calls,” Hibben writes. “And Apple appears to be interested in this genre-bending device as well.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Instant also-ran. The Zune of smart speakers.

Once they finally get something shipping in quantity, it’ll be fun to watch how quickly Apple takes the top end of the market away from Amazon’s Echo since Apple’s solution will certainly have unique advantages within Apple’s ecosystem that makes it the obvious choice for Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch users.

Amazon dominates market for voice-controlled speakers – May 9, 2017
Bloomberg: Unclear if Apple’s forthcoming Siri Speaker will feature a display; Amazon would love to integrate Apple Music on Echo – May 9, 2017
Amazon unveils ‘Echo Show’ with a display for video calls and more; ships June 28 – May 9, 2017
Phil Schiller on Amazon Echo-like devices and more – May 6, 2017
Apple’s Amazon Echo echo rumored to borrow trashcan Mac Pro design cues, could arrive at WWDC – April 28, 2017
Following debut of Echo Look with built-in camera, Amazon likely reveal new Echo device with a built-in display – April 27, 2017
Apple said to be working on a Siri-based Amazon Echo rival – April 27, 2017
Apple’s Amazon Echo echo: What if AirPort Extreme becomes the Siri speaker? – December 1, 2016
Apple abandons development of wireless routers – November 21, 2016
Apple’s Amazon Echo echo – September 26, 2016
Apple’s Amazon Echo rival said to include includes built-in cameras to read users’ emotions, recognize faces – September 23, 2016
Apple’s Siri-powered Amazon Echo-like device reportedly now in prototype testing – September 23, 2016
Why an ‘Apple Echo’ would be a hit – June 15, 2016
New Apple TV to take on Amazon’s Echo, source says – May 26, 2016
Apple preps Amazon Echo rival, opening up Siri – May 24, 2016
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Google unveils its Amazon Echo knockoff called ‘Google Home’ – May 18, 2016
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