“Consider Apple’s release of a new music-oriented device priced higher than its perceived competitors — which have already established an enthusiastic audience base over the past few years,” Daniel Eran Dilger writes for AppleInsider. “How can it possibly survive in such a difficult position? The answer was: by being better in key ways that matter to users. iPod went on to become a legendary franchise in personal audio. Now Apple is doing the same thing again in home audio with HomePod.”

“The first iPod wasn’t actually that big of a seller. It took three years of sales before it accounted for over 90 percent of the market for hard-drive-based players,” Dilger writes. “Apple’s iPod destroyed the big, entrenched mega corp; all of the small, nimble, independent innovators and the combined forces of all of the various global licensing partners of Microsoft at a time when the company itself was seen as beleaguered, a fledgling survivor of the Dotcom boom with no certain future —but facing major obstacles and entrenched competition from much larger rivals working in concert to kill it.”

Apple's HomePod

Apple’s HomePod

“Critics portrayed Apple’s new device as comically overpriced and missing important features. Slashdot, a once-influential web portal for nerds, famously dismissed the iPod announcement with the terse appraisal: ‘No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame,'” Dilger writes. “As if they were literally born yesterday and can’t read any archives of the internet offering a glimpse of how things have ever previously happened, thinkers of all kinds are offering their opinions on how a company that is now the largest and most successful maker and marketer of electronics on the planet —and which now has a global retail presence and massive, deep partnerships with every major retailer —won’t be able to sell a new luxury home device priced so terribly high as the $350 HomePod… Calling HomePod a smart speaker is like calling iPod an MP3 player.”

Read more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: This is not to excuse Apple for being slow and quite late to the game, they were and are, and the company should be quite embarrassed, but, as we wrote last May:

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 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.

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”.

When it finally ships, HomePod will take the high end of the smart speaker market, however large or small that may be. Its seamless integration into the Apple ecosystem will make it the go-to smart speaker for the very best customers – those with strong, coveted demographics (disposable income and the proven will to spend it).MacDailyNews, January 9, 2017

One hour with Apple’s new HomePod smart speaker – January 25, 2018
Apple’s iOS 11.3 beta delivers AirPlay 2 with multi-room playback – January 25, 2018
How Apple is positioning the HomePod and why – January 24, 2018
How I got talked into buying an Apple HomePod despite my reservations – January 24, 2018
Tim Cook says audio quality puts HomePod ahead of ‘squeaky-sounding’ competition – January 24, 2018
Apple’s HomePod arrives February 9th, available to order this Friday, January 26th – January 23, 2018
Apple delays HomePod release to early 2018 – November 17, 2017
Apple reveals HomePod smart home music speaker – June 5, 2017