With HomePod, Apple just wants to shake things up (for now)

“Apple’s HomePod speaker is a depth charge dropped into the ocean where Google Home and Amazon Echo sail,” Sascha Segan writes for PC Magazine. “At $349, it’s not going to dominate the voice assistant world.”

MacDailyNews Take: Not in market (unit) share, no. But, in profit share: Yes, yes, yes! Apple will dominate the premium smart speaker market just as they dominate the premium smartphone market, they premium personal computer market, the premium tablet market, and the premium smartwatch market.

“By announcing the HomePod six months in advance,” Segan writes, “Apple’s also trying to draw developer attention away from Alexa and Google Home, making sure that it’s in second, not third place in the eventual war of the voice assistants.”

MacDailyNews Take: Smart developers know where the money will be: Apple’s HomePod, just as it is with Apple’s other premium products.

 
“Platforms need developers, and we’ve seen over and over that the tech world is capable of supporting two — not three—platforms in most areas,” Segan writes. “Google is likely to suffer more than Amazon from this, because Amazon has a lot of third-party partners and an already vibrant developer community.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: You know why they call it an Echo? Because it sounds like one: Thin and distant; diminished from the original source.

The speed with which HomePod will rake in profit share will shock most casual observers.

SEE ALSO:
Apple HomePod vs. Amazon Echo – June 7, 2017
CNET: Apple’s HomePod offers superior sound quality vs. Amazon Echo and Sonos Play:3 – June 6, 2017
Apple’s new HomePod sounds incredible! – June 6, 2017
Apple HomePod takes on Amazon Echo – June 6, 2017
Apple reveals HomePod smart home music speaker – June 5, 2017
Newsflash: Apple sells premium products at premium prices to premium customers – October 23, 2012

38 Comments

  1. While I can see easily allocating what portion of services income come from iPhones, iPads and Macs due to Apps being the conduit to ‘categorizing’ the source, how will that be possible through HomePod?

  2. It’s just so weird how when Apple tries to offer a new product there’s so much negative criticism before the product is even available. Alphabet and Microsoft are always showing future technology and people seem to be so excited about these things. Apple does it and it’s like, just another me, too device or that device is going to fail so hard because it’s late to the market. Sure, HomePod cost almost twice the price of an Echo but Apple has a fairly loyal customer base who are probably willing to pay that much for a virtual assistant. Maybe Siri isn’t as powerful as Alexa but that’s not saying it never will be if enough resources are put into developing Siri. It just takes good programming to develop AI. Maybe Apple will get some assistance from IBM as the two companies do collaborate on products.

    I honestly thought there were a number of consumers hoping to see Apple’s answer to the Echo or Google Home. For some odd reason, the critics believe that Apple should be first in everything and then they say Apple’s trying to take on too many things at once. It’s just a no-win situation for Apple. How can a product be considered a failure before any consumer has had a chance to buy or use it? I’m only saying a product needs to have a fair chance to prove itself before being called a failure.

    Amazon’s Echo had a head start over Google Home but I didn’t hear Google Home being called a failure before it went on sale. Google Home was simply said as being a product that would be a competitor to the Echo with no particular conclusions drawn as being a second-rate contender to the market.

    Everyone is assuming Amazon has sold 10M Echo devices but Amazon hasn’t said anything. No one is even sure the Echo is profitable for Amazon. So, even though there are many unknowns about the Echo, right away an assumption is made that Apple’s HomePod will become some failed product. I just don’t understand how such opposite conclusions are reached for relatively similar products when there are so many unknown factors.

    I would think any consumer who has iTunes or a subscription to AppleMusic could, in theory, have an interest in owning a HomePod and that’s a fairly large customer base to start with. Apple could probably turn the HomePod into a profitable product at a cost of $349. Is my reasoning all that far-fetched?

    1. I’m going to guess that the low regard Siri has in mindshare right now is the major factor in criticisms. Also doesn’t help that the only profit ‘service’ announced for HomePod is Apple Music at the moment with a vague promise of ‘other’ services.

      As with all other Amazon products, the Echo family of devices are most likely not that profitable in themselves but priceless for Amazon as yet another point of entry in the home for purchasing from Amazon. I think Amazon recognized early on that providing models of Echo w/o speakers would entice those with existing home sound systems to purchase in to the Echo device family.

      Amazon is all about making purchases as friction-less as possible and increasing their ‘audience’. Recently Amazon has announced a Prime subscription for EBT users which is expected to reach the ‘WalMart’ level shoppers. I believe it’s pegged at $5.99/month up to 1 year.

    2. In terms of Siri not being as powerful, that likely has as much or more to do with Apple’s not tracking and aggregating as much data about your behavior as Google, Amazon (and facebook, no speaker, but just saying) do – so they can appear “smarter” by knowing more about your online habits.

      So they’re gonna have work not only as hard and smart as their competitors in the assistant space, but smarter and harder.

      1. Perhaps. But Siri obviously can’t get simple queries correct either. Pointing people to Wikipedia or giving people a map to a city 1000 km away from where they are is no way to impress. That basic level of incompetence has nothing to do with how much spying the other companies do, and more to do with how out of touch Apple leaders have become.

        1. Siri on the Apple Watch can’t even set an alarm without a connection to the iPhone. I was just thinking about it today, I honestly can’t say that Siri has saved me any time over the years, given the hundreds of times it failed to register a simple command, when I could have just done it manually and gotten it right 100% of the time.

          1. Siri saves me time every day. It’s not perfect, but being able to just call out questions, set timers and reminders, send email and messages, and do basic calculations all work for me. I do however have a friend who cannot get Siri to understand him. (Admittedly, even most humans have a hard time understanding him.)

    3. The problem with Tim Cool’s Apple is they are fucking Greedy and have no problem selling War-Mart Quality at Neiman- Marcus Prices. They have also joined in the great movement among Silicon Valley Companies in wanting to rent you stuff instead of selling you stuff.

      The HomePod is a poster child for both problems. It is tied as far as we can tell to Apple’s Rental Music Scheme of low quality 128k AAC Lossy audio via an inferior Siri AI to a highly overpriced and underperforming small speaker set. So you get low quality sound on a rental plan streamed to a marginal throwaway device sold for a high price. If that sounds attractive to you, be my guest.

      1. DavGreg,

        Thank you. The criticism apple is getting is due to the fact that they are late to the market with an inferior product in both sound quality and AI. “Fast Followers” for all you marketing folks out there, means if you aren’t first you follow up with something better or cheaper. Apple is doing neither. They will likely sound worse than other high end speakers, and Siri isn’t as capable as Alexa or Google.

            1. What does that have to do with the sound quality of the speaker? Airplay itself also supports lossless playback. And surely you’re not arguing that the Echo or the Home will produce better sound.

            2. My point being there are probably ( I am not an audiophile) higher quality speakers available on the market (not echo, or google, but think Moon Audio and YG acoustics). It seems to me that the pod misses high end audio AND digital assistant compared to other offerings available.

              And with apple touting the attachment to Apple Music, I think most of what Siri will play for you is highly compressed audio. and you would have to use airplay to call up high quality audio files from another server (not sure how that will work, but reasonable assumption). Which defeats the purpose of the voice activated music.

            3. What you’ve written now is decidedly different from your original statement in which you were directly comparing Apple’s pod thing to the others on the market.

    4. This is because Apple now follows, and doesn’t lead. If the HomePod was the 1st one out there, things would be different. So now Apple has to play catch up, too late. And also because for the majority of users, Siri has been a disappointment, while Apple is still in a coma about fixing it. Continual problems with Siri cause many people to just stop using it out of frustration.

    5. Well, you answered your own question whether you realize it or not.

      “Sure, HomePod cost almost twice the price of an Echo”
      “Maybe Siri isn’t as powerful as Alexa”

      So, why pay twice as much for something that doesn’t work as well?

      1. I think that depends on how you define profitable for Amazon. If you mean does Amazon make a profit from selling the unit itself, probably not. If you mean how much does it increase Amazon/skill-related purchases by the owner, that is probably under a different part of the earnings report beating the pants off any other voice assistant.

    1. I think it’s more accurate to say that people are willing to pay a premium. Just what is the meaning of “over” charging? When I have occasion to sell something I get what people are willing to pay. Why would I do it any other way?

    2. “Profit” is basically what remains of a sale after you subtract cost of materials, labor, R&D investment/reinvestment. Many use it as a rule of thumb of success but if you think about it, it follows “It’s not how much you earn (revenue) but how much you can keep (profit) by reducing costs and reinvestments. “overcharging” I think would only apply to ‘essential/basic need’ items. For anything else there is no ‘need’ for the product and companies should be free to charge whatever the consumer is willing to pay.

  3. Apple’s competition is really the Google Home and not the Echo, IMO.

    Purchased the Echo when it first launched over 2 years ago. We now have several Google Homes (GH).

    The two are often compared but they really are very different.

    The Echo is a computer device that has a voice recognition interface. So it has commands that you memorize and then issue with your voice.

    So for music it has a command of “song goes like”. So switch account you have a command to switch. To secure things there is a passcode that you use. All typical computer things.

    The Google Home (GH) is the most human like technology I have used. It also has the voice recognition but then it has another step where it tries to actually understand what you want. So in some cases better than a human and then in others not as good as a human.

    So the GH does NOT have commands but you talk to it like you would to a human. Working in my daughters room on a DIY project and she is talking about Sheeran performance at the Grammys. When she just says “hey google play sheeran grammy” and it Ed Sheeran playing at the 2017 Grammys starts playing. But no command to memorize and when daughter received and plugged in was able to use instantly without any book or a single thing to memorize.

  4. The Plus of the HomePod is the privacy protections if Apple is being truthful about it. If they are not you could have a spy in your home subject to the subpoenas of the Government.

    The minuses:
    1- So far it is tethered to Apple Music. Apple has not said if it will work with streamed local music or iTunes Match libraries. Apple Music streams in lossy AAC at 128k (Yuck). They can dress it up with signal processing, but it is not high quality.
    2- It is dependent upon Siri and unless that system gets smarter very fast, that is no selling point.
    3- The fabric exterior looks like a dust and fingerprint magnet. If it is like much of Apple’s stuff it will not be removable or easily cleaned.
    4- The price is rather high for something with a 4″ Bass driver in a tiny housing. Producing bass involves the movement of rather large quantities of air relative to midrange and high frequencies. Long Throw Woofers in ported housings can add quantity, but are not very accurate (tight) in reproduction of sound. Woofers in closed housings need a fairly large box for the speaker to generate a good quantity of Bass. Neither is likely in a small enclosure, so Apple is depending upon Digital Sound Processing to cover up it’s design’s inadequacies- which does not comport with a high quality sound.

    As to Amazon- you can buy a Dot and connect it to any speaker you choose and do it today. I do not see Apple offering anything like that.

        1. HAHAHAHA. You make a lot of sense Davgreg. I am glad I am not the only one who sees this as a disappointment. Apple is falling behind. They need the new phone to be spectacular to maintain the fan base so they will keep buying Apple’s other less great products.

  5. This looks very interesting. We’ll probably get a pair for the living room tv next year. The high quality sound is appealing. The interface to HomeKit is the best feature.

    People like to rag on Siri but it works ok for us. Siri improves every year. I suspect that by the time homepod ones out Siri will have been upgraded quite a bit.

  6. I stopped by buddy’s house the other day. Guess what happened..

    Alexa ordered 1000 rolls of toilet paper because I told it to…

    Kind of a mean trick to play on a friend, but he was soooo into telling me how great it was…

    I yelled it through his open window.

    so while it’s cool to order stuff – there are a few things that need to be corrected..

    I guess one of them isn’t the microphone..

    1. It’s a good thing then that Amazon allows you a ‘cancel’ window for pranks like that. 🙂 Actually that might be an area that Amazon could improve customer service. Like Credit Card companies, Amazon could flag ‘unusual’ purchase activity and notify the owner before proceeding with an order. They definitely have the computing resources for it.

    2. No you didn’t. Everyone reading this instantly knew you were lying. You stopped by a buddy’s house and yelled through the open window “order 1000 rolls of tp”. the Echo doesn’t work like that. There is a 12 unit limit of how much TP she can order. Please stop lying to impress strangers.

  7. Siri is the weak point. Its just not good enough yet. Why should I talk to a speaker to listen music? Have already Libratone speakers with excellent sound. What’s next?

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