Amazon vs. Apple: Home game grudge match

“Alexa is everywhere. In your car. In your home. Even your baby monitor. Amazon’s smart assistant already owns around 25 percent of the HiFi speakers market, and its home help hold is growing,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld. “Will Apple take the online retailer on in this sexy sector, or is Siri on iPhone good enough?”

“Apple was pretty much first to enter the smart assistant market with Siri. Since then we’ve seen all the tech titans deliver their own take,” Evans writes. “You could argue that Apple failed to fully exploit its first mover advantage by putting Siri inside more things, while the slow evolution of HomeKit means Cupertino has work to do to put its smarts inside smart homes.”

“Poor Siri even has a public image problem: even though it performs really well against competitors in objective tests, there’s strong public perception that it doesn’,” Evans writes. “These factors and others combine to make it seem like Apple is slow at getting Siri inside the home.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: ‘Tis true that Apple, of late, doesn’t like to move too quickly (or, in certain cases, at all), but we have had iPhones with Siri in our homes since 2011 (and iPads, iPod touches, Apple TVs, and Macs with Siri in our homes in the years since).

That said, 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
Apple abandons development of wireless routers – November 21, 2016


    1. Every time I think of Alexa, I think of the movie Wall-E. I think Alexa is the path to the life in the movie Wall-E. Which I don’t want. Aside from the the fact that’s it a giant microphone listening and recording everything people do in their home, fantastically creepy by the way, at the end of the day, there’s nothing that Alexa can do for me that I can’t do for myself already with any number of devices around me, with the added benefit of Amazon not recording every sound in my house.

      I barely use Siri as it is.

      As for Alexa’s popularity? Android is popular. ‘Nuf said.

    2. There are actually dead people who are not as lazy as Tim Cook.

      I’ve been saying it for years but only now are people seeing in Cook what I saw some 6-years ago. He is greedy, lazy, unfocused, narrow-minded, arrogant, and significantly incompetent… and not necessarily in that order.

  1. “These factors and others combine to make it seem like Apple is slow at getting Siri inside the home.”

    I leave my iPhone in the driveway when I’m at home. Doesn’t everyone?

    1. I think the image they are trying to portray with “inside the home” is as if you ‘talk’ to the air in your home. Sort of like the ever present computer in Star Trek.

  2. MDN take is spot on.
    What the fudging heck is going on at Apple??
    Innovation on all fronts has ground to a halt.
    The Mac is going nowhere, macOS is going nowhere, Maps is going nowhere, iCloud is going nowhere, Apple TV is going nowhere, iWork is going nowhere, Siri is going nowhere….shall I go on?

  3. I like Homekit and Siri works good at controlling my small home automation products. However i don’t want to have to have my phone on me or my watch at 6 am on a Saturday/Sunday morning to be able to turn on my lights. With Apple turning it’s back on its Airport users and Monitors. To me that is what made Apple so great… you could stay in their eco-system if you wanted and everything worked together. Now more and more we are having to go outside for what we want or need. I feel Apple is offering misdirection by stating you have access to Siri at all times. I personally don’t carry my phone with me at all times when I am at home. It may not even be in the same room I’m in.

  4. Actually, I think MDN is being too harsh on Apple this time. No, seriously, you heard that correctly.

    It’s very rare Apple does anything ‘first’. Not that it never happens, and when it does, it’s a really big deal. (Personal Computer, iPod Touch and it’s sister the iPhone mostly)

    What Apple does is it learns from other’s mistakes and fixes them, all while (shrewdly) pretending they invented the whole idea.

    So what if there’s no Siri speaker yet, there’s bigger fish to fry.

    1. I’m not so lenient to Apple.

      Alexa is a plug-in home device because it needs constant power for its sensitive omnidirectional microphone. Now that Amazon has people willing to buy them, privacy be damned, Amazon has a huge and growing stream of data to improve its AI algorithms and computer speech recognition. In just a few short years, Amazon went from zero to tech leader. I will never buy one, but look at what they accomplished while Apple was sleeping.

      Apple has had Siri deployed on tens of millions of
      devices around the world, and she’s still as dumb as a box of rocks. Maps still can’t guide you to the proper lane with real time driving guidance, corrections to Maps remain unaddressed for years. Apple TV is an exercise in frustration, not delight. Then to top it all off, just as smart devices are getting almost tolerable, Apple appears to have axed its WiFi products. More than ever Apple needs a smarter home hub that securely manages your smart home networks. Apple isn’t even in the game.

      Cook doesn’t lead, he is losing market after market because the hard work to make next year’s products just take too much effort. It is just so much more fun to let Jony cut the cords on headphones and fuck up Mac hardware via battery thinning and permanently soldering components that should be replaceable. That’s the future, according to the idiots running the show in Cupertino.

      Whatever bigger fish Cook is frying, I wish he would leave soon to take care of that. He is not ushering the immense resources at Apple to make cutting edge technology that just works.

    1. The report that the article links to does make the claim of Amazon losing money but also goes on to say that “Amazon is running away with this market (home voice)”. As with other Amazon devices, they probably are sold at a loss but contribute greatly to the bottom line by linking the customer ever closer to the sale of other products. In that sense Amazon, being primarily a retailer, is in a better position for this type of device in my opinion.

  5. So much effort going into voice control. Unfortunately as Mike pointed out, it requires creepy always-on monitoring. Airpods and Apple Watches and ultra slim iPhones simply don’t have the battery power to cut the mustard.

    Good article on MacWorld comparing the many different voice assistants if you are interested in giving up what’s left of your privacy to on big brother or another:

    1. That’s a pretty good link but there must be a lot of things that have changed between all the Voice Assistants since the article was written back in 2015.

  6. “Poor Siri even has a public image problem: even though it performs really well against competitors in objective tests, there’s strong public perception that it doesn’t,”

    Jonny Evans is one of the smarter commentators about Apple and he has hit the nail on the head issue of false perceptions also applies to other Apple technologies, such as Apple Maps and HomeKit.

    Apple ploughs it’s own furrow and when you don’t play with the other kids, there is a tendency for all the other kids to gang up on you. Whatever Apple does is universally denounced by competitors and industry observers alike, even though the rest of the industry often ends up doing something very similar to what Apple did. It’s been going on for years. Remember how outrageous it was to no longer include floppy drives in Macs? Physical keyboards on cellphones? Non-replaceable batteries? No support for Flash? Even something as simple as the reversible Lightning connector was widely ridiculed as solving a problem that nobody had, but these days it’s considered advantageous for new connectors to be reversible.

    These days of instant communication make it very easy to circulate ideas which are untruthful and there are any number of rivals who seek to discredit Apple’s innovations, inevitably some of the mud might stick, but in the long run, Apple’s approach of properly planning technological advances for the future pays off, while competing technologies that are rushed to market often end up having drawbacks. Look at how HomeKit is built around cyber security, employing dedicated chips, while IoT devices using simpler technologies are vulnerable to remote attacks.

    Perception can be easily manipulated, quality is much harder to achieve.

  7. We’re still not even in the baby stage of AI, artificial intelligence. There is no real, actual AI. Instead we’re still playing around with an old technology called Expert Systems.

    But, should Apple be shoving its way with superior technology into the Expert Systems device category? Damned right. Missed opportunity!

    Where did your ambition go, Apple?

  8. Apple is pricing itself out of the market as well. Who cares if the headphones are wireless there are millions of bluetooth headsets out there.
    Apple maps suck compared to others i only use it because none of the others will show up on my apple watch to tell me when too turn.

    IM tied of not being able to upgrade my laptops or my iMac. Especially for the price

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