“Apple’s forthcoming HomePod won’t see the light of day until ‘early 2018,’ which will be nearly six years after the company started developing the smart speaker, and almost four years after Amazon.com released its first Echo in 2014,” Evan Niu writes for The Mptley Fool. “The smart speaker project reportedly endured quite a bit of turmoil, being canceled and resurrected numerous times, and Apple tested out various different physical prototypes before landing on the current marshmallow design.”

“While Apple doesn’t generally place a lot of value in being first to market as long as it can offer the best product once it gets there, the HomePod is not only far behind rivals in timing, but also in features and capabilities. One of Bloomberg’s sources went as far as to say, ‘This is a huge missed opportunity,'” Niu writes. “The company is positioning the HomePod as a premium, high-fidelity speaker for audiophiles. It remains unclear if that value proposition will appeal to average consumers and justify the hefty $349 price tag, particularly as Apple lags in smart-home technology and virtual assistants compared to Amazon’s growing Echo ecosystem.”

“Mainstream consumers aren’t buying Echo for the audio quality; they buy it for Alexa,” Niu writes. “There’s a real risk that HomePod flops because Apple has misjudged the market…”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Visionary CEO vs. caretaker CEO, that’s why.

“Oh, but Tim Cook has made Apple the world’s richest company! The stock price is near record highs!” some might say. And that’s true enough.

Others might say, “Let’s be honest, Steve Ballmer could’ve generated the same kind of money running Apple Inc. given the massive momentum Steve Jobs handed over at his death. Sometimes, in fact, it looks like Steve Ballmer is running Apple. Although, no, it doesn’t really, because even Ballmer would have updated the Mac Pro by now, made sure he had enough Apple Watches ready so as not to pretty much totally kill launch momentum, had enough Apple Pencils and Smart Keyboards on hand for the iPad Pro launch, enough AirPods at launch, etc. Even Monkey Boy would have had an Amazon Echo knockoff on the market for Christmas 2016, at the latest, too. Not missing Christmas 2017. Deny it if you must, but you know it’s true.”

Listen, Tim Cook has some very admirable qualities. For just one example, his stance on privacy is important and unparalleled. We’re not sure we’d have such privacy with any other CEO this side of Edward Snowden. (Of course, Cook’s ability to make that a selling point is in question as the near total lack of privacy doesn’t seem to dissuade literally billions of people from surrendering it daily to FaceBook and Google.) His commitment to clean, renewable energy is another.

Still, after this latest delay, missing Christmas with HomePod, thereby ensuring millions more Amazon Echo and Google Home units find their way under Christmas trees this year and all of the ancillary negative offshoots of that (Spotify rather than Apple Music subscriptions, for example), we’re left wondering:

How much would Apple Inc. be worth today had a Jeff Bezos-type CEO taken over the reins instead?

Sonos speakers get smart with Amazon’s Alexa – November 21, 2017
Why Apple’s HomePod is three years behind Amazon’s Echo – November 21, 2017
Under ‘operations genius’ Tim Cook, product delays and other problems are no longer unusual for Apple – November 20, 2017
Apple delays HomePod release to early 2018 – November 17, 2017
Apple CEO Tim Cook: The ‘operations genius’ who never has enough products to sell at launch – October 23, 2017
Ars Technica reviews Apple TV 4K: Vision less than fully realized – October 9, 2017
Apple reveals HomePod smart home music speaker – June 5, 2017
Apple’s desperate Mac Pro damage control message hints at a confused, divided company – April 6, 2017
Apple’s new TV app shows just how painfully behind Apple is – December 14, 2016
Apple is misplaying the hand Steve Jobs left them – November 30, 2016
Apple has no idea what they’re doing in the TV space, and it’s embarrassing – November 3, 2016
Apple delays AirPod rollout – October 26, 2016
Taking on the $179 Apple TV 4K, Roku unveils $99 Roku Ultra with 4K HDR capability – October 2, 2017
Apple delays release of watchOS 2 due to bug – September 16, 2015
Apple delays HomeKit launch until autumn – May 14, 2015
Apple delays production of 12.9-inch ‘iPad Pro’ in face of overwhelming iPhone 6/Plus demand – October 9, 2014
Tim Cook’s mea culpa: iMac launch should have been postponed – April 24, 2013