Tech’s biggest showdown is unfolding in your living room

“Microsoft is joining Google and Amazon in the race for your home,” Cade Metz writes for Wired. “This week, at an event in China, the venerable tech giant trumpeted the arrival of Project Evo, a sweeping plan to build hardware devices that work a lot like Google Home or the Amazon Echo.”

“But this race is much bigger than some gadgets that sit on your coffee table. It’s a race not only for the hearts and minds of consumers, but for a world of business customers, too,” Metz writes. “The prize is more than just the best home digital assistant. The biggest spoils go to the company that rides its assistant to artificial brains that are far smarter—and creates a market for using these brains to do just about anything.”

“Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are all racing to build systems that recognize and truly understand natural language—how you and I talk. If they can put this technology not only in your living room, but in your pocket and elsewhere, they can become the hub of everything you do online,” Metz writes. “Google wants to retain its central role in your life. Amazon hopes to move well beyond online shopping. And Microsoft doesn’t want to be left out.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: And Apple is resting on their laurels with their thumbs up their asses.

Or are they really?

We think not. What Apple’s been working on will become quite clear in 2017.

Of course, this is not to sugarcoat Apple’s lateness in relation to Amazon Echo. As we wrote in March:

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.

And, as we wrote back in June:

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.

Apple’s Amazon Echo echo: What if AirPort Extreme becomes the Siri speaker? – December 1, 2016


  1. “We have exciting things in the pipeline.” – T. Cook 2013
    “We have exciting things in the pipeline.” – T. Cook 2014
    “We have exciting things in the pipeline.” – T. Cook 2015
    “We have exciting things in the pipeline.” – T. Cook 2016
    “The home? Heck no, we’re leapfroggin’
    the home and going directly to outer
    space! Have ya seen our ship? We’re
    mighty darn proud of it I tell ya.” – T. Cook 2017

  2. I have an echo and other than for simple queries and calling up news clips or music, it a PoS. I can ask Siri the score of a game involving a team playing that day and Siri brings up the score and speaks the result. Echo says “i don’t understand the question”.

  3. Why is it no one recognizes that Watson could power the greatest browser in the world. And Apple has a unique relationship with IBM. Looks like a few IQ points are missing here.

    1. Watson is a very specialized system. Any “version” of it is geared towards a specific industry and not a general broad based knowledge.

      IBM is able to tailor it to those specific needs which is why it is so competent.

      These other systems need to be able to understand very generalized questions from many, many different areas.

      Amazon wants your shopping.
      Google wants your data.
      Microsoft doesn’t want to be left behind.

      Apple doesn’t give a shit one way or another. If the user experience is truly something that makes sense, then they’ll do it.

      1. Not sure that answers the question. For medicine, they point their search engine at medical records and read X thousand papers per second. etc.

        I don’t see that as different from pointing their search engine at Google, Yahoo, DuckDuck, etc., and interrogating all their stacks. Or going around the web interrogating all the servers. The info is catalogged and parsed. This is exactly what Watson does for diseases (fill in 1000 diseases), or specialties (fill in 200 specialties). The scale may be larger, but the algorithms should be the same.

        Medicine is a deep level search. The web would be a shallow level search.

        1. Someone who gets it. Being specialist as AI is very different to bring a specialist as a human. To simplify the argument there is little to no limit as AI to combining those various specialisations whereas in a human brain it is almost impossible and very few geniuses have been able to show it at al. Newton, Galileo here are the type who can express that quality. Thus we tend to view it from that human perspective without realising the inate differences between the human brain and any artificial one. The strengths are very different and will be for the foreseeable future.

          As for Apples failure in producing an echo like product it’s only excuse is that that product is not up to the job it so physically takes on for MDN is totally correct the human brain likes to identify with apparent physicality in things it interacts with. That’s natural and Amazon clearly saw that. So Apple if it did see that but those limitations it saw held it back will only rectify the perception it has fallen behind by creating something of a level well beyond what presently exists so people understand the delay. In this Watson may well play a part, not sure what other potential factor could give any ‘physical’ AI assistant that leap ahead of the competition it will need. So 2017 will indeed be interesting in this regard in revealing if Apple truly understands this particular future.

          1. Actually, all AI is inherently limited by its programming, no matter how much it might evolve in the direction set by its programming. It can ONLY parse data, it can’t draw conclusions about that data, and it will be thus for the foreseeable future because all programming is based on the immutable logic of mathematics. Parsing data and crunching numbers are pretty much all it is good for. Very useful in some scenarios, not so much in others where the judicious application of more subtle methodology is called for.

  4. What’s up with Mac daily news first they say don’t do something until it’s done right and don’t release it until it’s perfect and then all they do is criticize Apple for lagging behind and I don’t even know if they’re working on something which they could be so… get real MDN they’ll have something that will blow us all away when the timing is right

    1. What’s up with MacDailyNews? That’s the question that keeps bubbling up here in the comments section, from all comers—fanboys, cynics, trolls, even reasonable people.

      It think it’s because there is more than one of them, and individuals possess, and express, different opinions on different days. There is no lockstep mentality, no ironclad ideology. Do YOU agree with everything your spouse, or business partner, or identical twin, says and does? Of course not. But even if there did exist a hard rule to stick to a concrete agenda, and even if there was only one person, seepage would creep in, because of human nature.

      A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood. — Emerson

  5. Creating the future is tough. How many hundreds of companies have tried to do that in the last decade and are around no more. Pebble? Palm?

    It takes vision and then one hell of a lot of work to get it right.

  6. Guys, you forget: Apple ALWAYS follows now. They take bad executions of good ideas and make them work well. They didn’t invent an internet communications device they invented a computer that also does phone calls. They didn’t invent the tablet, they saw how bad the “slate” ( stupid monikor) was and made the iPad. They didn’t invent a wearable they made a computer/phone on your wrist.

    The home and health are nascent industries. I think they are focusing on health more than the home because if your watch/phone and the internet can save your life that really makes life better.

  7. Apple could have done what Amazon did if they had given it a little more thought. Why the need for the Siri remote for Apple TV 4? If they had just added a mic and speaker, then when someone said, “Hey, Siri?”, the Apple TV would respond, since it is plugged in, just make it always on. Even though I’m not designer and programmer, seems simple enough, doesn’t it?

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