Why we might not see Apple’s answer to the Amazon Echo

“The pressure is on for Apple to catch up with Amazon and Google and deliver a dedicated home device for Siri,” Carolina Milanesi writes for Tech.pinions. “Or at least, this is what the current narrative would like you to think about how Apple is positioned in the race to the AI promised land.”

“With Siri soon to be on the Mac as well as on Apple TV, the iPad, the Apple Watch and, of course, the iPhone, Apple is making sure users are never too far from being able to search a file, ask for a movie, dictate a message or inquire about the weather,” Milanesi writes. “While all these devices might not have the super power Alexa is granted by having seven microphones all in one place, they are also not meant to be static in our home. Bottom line, Siri is always next to me, no matter if I am at home or not.”

“When you start to think about the assistant in the context of home access, it is also interesting to see how differently Apple is positioning its devices compared to Amazon,” Milanesi writes. “Apple positions the iPhone, the Apple TV and the iPad as home remote controllers that are smart and secure vs Amazon that allows Alexa to be tapped into by different devices. For the user, the final result is the same: switching off the lights, closing the garage and so on. The way they get there is very different and has implications on how consumers will see, not just the assistant, but also the brand behind it.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We continue to believe there is some psychology at work here.

As we wrote on June 15th:

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.

SEE ALSO:
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
Apple should make a stationary voice command device like Amazon’s Echo – May 19, 2016
Google unveils its Amazon Echo knockoff called ‘Google Home’ – May 18, 2016
Where’s Apple’s answer to Amazon Echo? – March 31, 2016
Amazon Echo leads mindshare in smart home platform war – February 29, 2016

21 Comments

  1. The idea of more physical hardware to do something that can already be done on everyone’s wrist or through the phone in their pocket, is just ridiculous. As technology progresses, we digitalize physical things. This is a technology that doesn’t need a new physical device. This is why Amazon did it, because it’s a failure waiting to fail, concocted by the loss-leader laughing stock of Silicon Valley.

    1. “The idea of more physical hardware to do something that can already be done on everyone’s wrist or through the phone in their pocket, is just ridiculous.”

      I didn’t realize that the Apple Watch or iPhone had speakers capable of filling up a room with music.

      If you think Echo or Tap are “Alexa boxes”, you’re missing the point of these entirely.

  2. One thing being missed here is that Echo and Tap both compete heavily against Sonos, while Apple really isn’t in the market at all.

    Echo and Tap aren’t voice activated assistants, they’re first and foremost music system speakers… and they’re quite good.

    I’d love it if Apple bought Sonos and put Siri and app store on it, or if they created their own line of speakers/amps/system with Siri and an app store.

    In the meantime, Echo makes a lot of sense for a single-room music system, while Tap makes a lot of sense as a portable, and Sonos makes the most sense as a multi-room system.

    And yes, I’m well aware of Bluetooth and AirPlay (Echo and Tap can both work with Bluetooth as well), but there are numerous advantages, simplicity, and elegance to having an always on self-contained system.

    1. Billions on R&D… And lacks answers..
      Now i understand if inventing the time machine is in question….
      But so many basic stuff is neglected, omitted or not paid attention to.. …
      Apple needs to become more dynamic and PR has to create more excitement.
      We need to be able to confidently look forward on what’s coming from Apple.. Not chew on our nails thinkg “please let it not be a let down ”

      I want to look forward with excitment not nervousness…… But unfortunately , at least for me, 2015 and 1st hslf of 2016 have been a big let downs.. Packed with disarray and half backed implementations of some new products and releases.

      To be fair though.. WWDC was impressive ..
      Lets see what comes next…
      I Want the good old dynamic, exciting Apple back !

    1. This. People use Alexa because it works well. You ask it questions, it understands you and gives you a relevant repsonse.

      Siri does none of those things.

  3. It’s true to say that if you have failed to produce successfully the devices that Apple has then I guess there is little option but to create a standalone solution. My only criticism is test Apple took too long to take advantage of its superior presense and allowed an inferior concept to look like cutting edge when in truth it is a little dead end by nature.

  4. Who cares?

    Where’s Apple’s answer to Drone delivery service?
    Where’s Apple’s answer to SpaceX?
    Where’s Apple’s answer to Purina dog chow?

    People who worry about this shit need to get a life.

    I’ve been using Apple products for over 30 years … a lot longer than any of these other companies have been around. Guess what? They don’t need to do EVERYTHING to make EVERYONE happy to survive.

    1. That’s very true, however that being said, I’ve been using the Echo and Tap, and love them. They’re near perfect, other than not being a part of Apple’s ecosystem. If they were, Apple could sell a ton… far more than Amazon is.

      As a consumer (and Apple user for 38 years), I’m begging for one. As as stockholder, I’m asking that Apple acknowledge this product category and deliver something that will add to the bottom line. As someone in media who frequently reports on such matters, I’m suggesting that they probably will at some point.

      1. You may be begging for an Apple version of these products, but I am not. I do not want a device listening to me all of the time like a ghost in my house. People seem to be overlooking the privacy side of this issue. Apple’s stance on personal privacy makes an Alexa-type of device somewhat problematic in my opinion.

        1. You should learn how they work before commenting, because they don’t work like that.

          By your same logic, you shouldn’t have a Mac, iPad, Apple TV or iPhone.

  5. There was a book called 1984 that you may have heard of where a future came with a television that had two way listening and observation capabilities. Alexa and to a lesser degree sir are always listening to everything we do whether we ask it to or not. It seems to me to be a bad trade off between the convenience of Alexa listrning to me and finding a song or movie showing and keeping what’s left of my privacy. I already know the NSA listens and watches everything we do. I’d rather do the searches myself with my well tuned iPad than give big brother an easy way to hear and see everything I do.

    1. Or you know, you could just only have it listen when you push the microphone button on the Tap. Sort of like with an iPhone not having Hey Siri activated.

      1. kev, and you know Alexa is NOT listening cause she does not respond??????? Maybe she is listening and recording just not replying!!!!! After all, Amazon wants to hear everything you say to better sell you stuff.

        I believe Amazon and Google have indicated that they want to HEAR everything you say so they know you better. 🙁

        1. kev, and you know Alexa is NOT listening cause she does not respond?

          On the Amazon Tap, there is no ability to have Alexa hear anything without pushing the microphone button down. It’s one of the biggest criticisms of the device.

          As I said earlier in another thread, if you’re paranoid about this technology, the same logic would apply to the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV.

          However if you spend a little time learning basic electronics, it’s not too hard to figure out how these devices work.

  6. Any iOS device with Siri is a near-equivalent of the Amazon Echo. Therefore, I can see why this isn’t on Apple’s urgency list. Add in Siri-on-Mac and the urgency drops even further.

    But there are Amazon Echo features that make it unique and somewhat superior. Apple would, I’d assume, attempt to come up with superior features of their own before competing directly with Amazon.

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