Alphabet Inc.’s Google “recently unveiled a suite of upgraded devices, including Google Home Mini and Max, as it closes in on Amazon’s dominance of smart speakers,” Teresa Rivas writes for Barron’s.

“IHS Markit’s Paul Erickson writes that Google had to get these to market, given the low price points that have allowed Amazon’s Echo products to proliferate,” Rivas writes. “Erickson calls the two Home speakers a first foothold for Google in which it took a page from Amazon, by making its devices more affordable… [But] he warns that Google still has two strikes against it in its competition with Amazon.”

The first is in the current positioning of the original Home speaker, still priced at $129 – bracketed by the revamped Amazon Echo with better two-way sound reproduction at $99, camera-equipped Echo Spot at $129, and the Zigbee-hub-equipped Echo Plus at $149… The second disadvantage is in bundling. Amazon’s current price-aggressive bundling of Echo Dot with its Fire TV products is expected to help keep Dot shipment volumes healthy despite the arrival of the Home Mini as a direct competitor. — Paul Erickson, IHS Markit

Apple's HomePod

Apple’s HomePod

Rivas writes, “That said, Google is also staking out its claim in the higher end of the market, as the Home Max, priced around $400, is now $50 more than Apple’s HomePod, previously deemed too expensive.”

MacDailyNews Take: “Deemed too expensive” by whom? Fake news much, Teresa?

Rivas writes, “Erickson warns that the pressure is on for Apple now since its home product still isn’t expected to debut until the end of the year.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s HomePod is obviously late (years late, in fact) as it’s missing the start of the holiday shopping season (Black Friday). Hopefully, it’ll debut as close to December 1st as possible.

Those who discount the power of Apple’s ecosystem or Apple’s advantages in sound quality, privacy, and vertical integration are amusing in their ignorance.

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. — MacDailyNews, May 10, 2017

As Reddit user Arve stated after HomePod’s unveiling:

1. They’re using some form of dynamic modeling, and likely also current sensing that allows them to have a p-p excursion of 20 mm in a 4″ driver. This is completely unheard of in the home market. You can read an introduction to the topic here. The practical upshot is that that 4″ driver can go louder than larger drivers, and with significantly less distortion. It’s also stuff you typically find in speakers with five-figure price tags (The Beolab 90 does this, and I also suspect that the Kii Three does). It’s a quantum leap over what a typical passive speaker does, and you don’t really even find it in higher-end powered speakers

2. The speaker uses six integrated beamforming microphones to probe the room dimensions, and alter its output so it sounds its best wherever it is placed in the room. It’ll know how large the room is, and where in the room it is placed.

3. The room correction applied after probing its own position isn’t simplistic DSP of frequency response, as the speaker has seven drivers that are used to create a beamforming speaker array,. so they can direct specific sound in specific directions. The only other speakers that do this is the Beolab 90, and Lexicon SL-1. The Beolab 90 is $85,000/pair, and no price tag is set for the Lexicon, but the expectation in the industry is “astronomical”.

So yes, compared to the typical sub-$2000 speaker, the technology they apply may just as well be considered “magic”.

Ahead of Apple’s HomePod, Amazon announces smaller, cloth-covered $99 Echo – September 27, 2017
Why Apple’s HomePod will crush the Amazon Echo and Google Home – August 28, 2017
Apple’s HomePod is uniquely positioned to win the smart speaker market – August 25, 2017
Consumers appear eager to buy Apple’s upcoming HomePod smart speaker – July 14, 2017
After seeing Apple’s HomePod, Amazon is working on an Apple HomePod echo – July 14, 2017
Apple Watch and AirPods in high demand; HomePod buying intent outpaces Amazon Echo – July 10, 2017
Apple’s HomePod could have an even more successful start than Apple Watch – July 7, 2017
Amazon Echo has a problem: Apple’s HomePod has major advantage over rivals – June 18, 2017
Apple’s HomePod first impressions: Lots of mystery, impressive sound quality – June 8, 2017
With HomePod, Apple just wants to shake things up (for now) – June 7, 2017
Apple HomePod vs. Amazon Echo – June 7, 2017
CNET: Apple’s HomePod offers superior sound quality vs. Amazon Echo and Sonos Play:3 – June 6, 2017
Apple’s new HomePod sounds incredible! – June 6, 2017
Apple HomePod takes on Amazon Echo – June 6, 2017
Apple reveals HomePod smart home music speaker – June 5, 2017