“When Apple Inc.’s HomePod smart speaker went on sale in January, it entered a market pioneered and dominated by Amazon’s Echo lineup of Alexa-powered devices,” Mark Gurman reports for Bloomberg. “Apple has been touting the HomePod’s superior sound quality but so far hasn’t enticed many consumers to part with $349.”

“By late March, Apple had lowered sales forecasts and cut some orders with Inventec Corp., one of the manufacturers that builds the HomePod for Apple, according to a person familiar with the matter,” Gurman reports. “During the HomePod’s first 10 weeks of sales, it eked out 10 percent of the smart speaker market, compared with 73 percent for Amazon’s Echo devices and 14 percent for the Google Home, according to Slice Intelligence. Three weeks after the launch, weekly HomePod sales slipped to about 4 percent of the smart speaker category on average, the market research firm says. Inventory is piling up, according to Apple store workers, who say some locations are selling fewer than 10 HomePods a day. Apple declined to comment.”

“Apple had an opportunity to put the HomePod at the center of a new ecosystem of smart home and other gadgets that aren’t glued to the iPhone. But the small, wireless speaker is not that product,” Gurman reports. “Though the HomePod delivers market-leading audio quality, consumers have discovered it’s heavily dependent on the iPhone and is limited as a digital assistant.”

“Apple never saw the HomePod as anything more than an accessory, like the AirPods earphones, according to people who worked on the product. When the Echo debuted four years ago as Apple engineers were toiling away on early versions of the HomePod, their bosses continued to see the product as a high-quality speaker rather than a voice-controlled digital assistant for the home,” Gurman reports. “To make matters worse, the device missed its December release date, meaning the HomePod wasn’t available during the pivotal holiday shopping season when smart speakers were among the most sought-after products. When the HomePod finally shipped, consumers found they couldn’t pair two speakers and create stereo sound or play music in multiple rooms. Apple has said these functions will be available this year…”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Tim Cook’s Apple. Tardy, confused, unfocused, and mismanaged.

HomePod — incomplete, ill-conceived, and late — is just another sign of what we’ve been warning about for over three years now. Misplaced priorities and mismanagement are the causes.

This wouldn’t have happened this way under Steve Jobs.

The HomePod’s internal code name ought to be “Clusterfsck,” but that’s already been taken by the Mac Pro.

Steve Jobs could see the whole picture and into the future. He would inherently know how to use Siri to tie together Wi-Fi connectivity, home automation, Bluetooth, Apple TV, sound reproduction, Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, etc. and he’d direct his staff to work towards the goal(s) he defined.

When you lose your visionary CEO and replace him with a caretaker CEO, this is the type of aimless, late, bureaucratic dithering that ensues. — MacDailyNews, November 21, 2017

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.MacDailyNews, March 29, 2016

Luckily for Tim Cook, Steve Jobs left him a perpetual profit machine that can absorb pretty much any lackadaisical fsckatude that can be thrown into the spokes.. — MacDailyNews, November 17, 2017

Missing one Christmas might not seem like a lot, but every user lost to another ecosystem is much, much more difficult to convert into a customer when you finally get your ass in gear and ship.

And, under the tree this year, there will be millions upon millions getting Amazon Echo and Google Home products and into their ecosystems*, not Apple’s.

*And other services, like Spotify instead of Apple Music, for one prominent example.

Apple really screwed the pooch on this one.

Real artists ship. – Steve JobsMacDailyNews, November 20, 2017

Apple could be run better than it currently is with more visionary leadership whose number one priority is delighting the customers of Apple Inc. by delivering exceptional products – as it was under Steve Jobs – but that will never happen because Steve Jobs left a company with so much momentum, that the cumulative effects of management mistakes won’t slow it down for years, if not decades. That is why Tim Cook has a free ride to plant trees in China while selling an over four-year “Mac Pro” as new today. (Note: It’s fine to plant trees in China, release coffee table books, etc. after you’ve competently performed the basic aspects of your job – like having first-rate, up-to-date products available for sale. When you do such things in spite of offering old product, incomplete product, flawed product, late product, and no product, you leave yourself open to criticism.)

Regardless, as long as the money keeps rolling in and share prices continue to climb, Tim Cook et al. aren’t going anywhere, but make no mistake: Apple could be performing better (we’re talking for customers here, not stock price) and would be with more focused, disciplined, visionary leadership. We gave Tim Cook much benefit of the doubt, but, as always, we call ’em like we see ’em. It’s not like Steve Jobs had the most stellar record of picking Apple CEOs.

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook

In 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook was paid well over a quarter of a million dollars per day ($279,452/day), yet his company could not manage to ship a fully-capable smart speaker (with multi-room, multi-user, and stereo paring capabilities) for 3 years, 3 months, and 4 days and counting after Amazon invented the category.
— MacDailyNews, March 13, 2018

Regardless of the profits and stock performance, many will say: Too many mistakes too richly rewarded. The recent lack of focus, timely performance, and vexing issues with quality control (that should not exist in the world’s most valuable company, 40+ years after inception) will, if continued, negatively impact the company and future executives years down the road, likely not the current set.MacDailyNews, December 28, 2017

There could be a psychological component to this that leads people use Alexa over Siri precisely because they know the Echo is there (it’s a physical object), but forget about Siri being everywhere, even on their wrists (because Siri is embedded inside devices that are “for other things” in the user’s mind (telling time, watching TV, computing, phone calls, etc.) and therefore “hidden” to the user. Hence, Siri gets forgotten and goes unused while people use Alexa…

Again: We believe people use Alexa because Amazon Echo is a physical manifestation of “her,” while forgetting about Siri even though she’s on their wrists at all times and/or in their iPhones and iPads because Siri is hidden inside objects whose primary function is something other than “personal assistant” in people’s minds (watch, TV, phone or tablet, as opposed to “Siri.”) Alexa is present thanks to the Amazon Echo. Siri is absent because she has no such counterpart; no physical manifestation.

Siri is a ghost. Alexa is that cool, fun, glowing tube right there on the counter.

Apple would do well to not discount the psychology behind why people use certain features, even though cold, hard logic tells them it’s a redundant and unnecessary product.

An “Apple Echo” device would sell in the millions of units per quarter and boost Siri usage immensely.MacDailyNews, June 15, 2016

Exit question: How much would Apple Inc. be worth today had a Jeff Bezos-type CEO taken over the reins instead?MacDailyNews, November 21, 2017

SEE ALSO:
Apple tumbles 24 spots – from 5th to 29th – in Harris Reputation Poll – March 13, 2018
Apple shakes up software development strategy to focus on quality – February 12, 2018
Apple on Mac flaw: ‘We apologize to all Mac users. Our customers deserve better. We are auditing our development processes.’ – November 29, 2017
Tim Cook’s sloppy, unfocused Apple rushes to fix a major Mac security bug – November 29, 2017
What to do about Apple’s shameful Mac security flaw in macOS High Sierra – November 29, 2017
Under ‘operations genius’ Tim Cook, product delays and other problems are no longer unusual for Apple – November 20, 2017
Apple’s desperate Mac Pro damage control message hints at a confused, divided company – April 6, 2017
On the future of Apple’s Macintosh – February 6, 2017
Apple is misplaying the hand Steve Jobs left them – November 30, 2016
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015