Apple started working on HomePod in 2012, so why are they so late to the smart speaker market?

“Apple’s forthcoming HomePod won’t see the light of day until ‘early 2018,’ which will be nearly six years after the company started developing the smart speaker, and almost four years after released its first Echo in 2014,” Evan Niu writes for The Mptley Fool. “The smart speaker project reportedly endured quite a bit of turmoil, being canceled and resurrected numerous times, and Apple tested out various different physical prototypes before landing on the current marshmallow design.”

“While Apple doesn’t generally place a lot of value in being first to market as long as it can offer the best product once it gets there, the HomePod is not only far behind rivals in timing, but also in features and capabilities. One of Bloomberg’s sources went as far as to say, ‘This is a huge missed opportunity,'” Niu writes. “The company is positioning the HomePod as a premium, high-fidelity speaker for audiophiles. It remains unclear if that value proposition will appeal to average consumers and justify the hefty $349 price tag, particularly as Apple lags in smart-home technology and virtual assistants compared to Amazon’s growing Echo ecosystem.”

“Mainstream consumers aren’t buying Echo for the audio quality; they buy it for Alexa,” Niu writes. “There’s a real risk that HomePod flops because Apple has misjudged the market…”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Visionary CEO vs. caretaker CEO, that’s why.

“Oh, but Tim Cook has made Apple the world’s richest company! The stock price is near record highs!” some might say. And that’s true enough.

Others might say, “Let’s be honest, Steve Ballmer could’ve generated the same kind of money running Apple Inc. given the massive momentum Steve Jobs handed over at his death. Sometimes, in fact, it looks like Steve Ballmer is running Apple. Although, no, it doesn’t really, because even Ballmer would have updated the Mac Pro by now, made sure he had enough Apple Watches ready so as not to pretty much totally kill launch momentum, had enough Apple Pencils and Smart Keyboards on hand for the iPad Pro launch, enough AirPods at launch, etc. Even Monkey Boy would have had an Amazon Echo knockoff on the market for Christmas 2016, at the latest, too. Not missing Christmas 2017. Deny it if you must, but you know it’s true.”

Listen, Tim Cook has some very admirable qualities. For just one example, his stance on privacy is important and unparalleled. We’re not sure we’d have such privacy with any other CEO this side of Edward Snowden. (Of course, Cook’s ability to make that a selling point is in question as the near total lack of privacy doesn’t seem to dissuade literally billions of people from surrendering it daily to FaceBook and Google.) His commitment to clean, renewable energy is another.

Still, after this latest delay, missing Christmas with HomePod, thereby ensuring millions more Amazon Echo and Google Home units find their way under Christmas trees this year and all of the ancillary negative offshoots of that (Spotify rather than Apple Music subscriptions, for example), we’re left wondering:

How much would Apple Inc. be worth today had a Jeff Bezos-type CEO taken over the reins instead?

Sonos speakers get smart with Amazon’s Alexa – November 21, 2017
Why Apple’s HomePod is three years behind Amazon’s Echo – November 21, 2017
Under ‘operations genius’ Tim Cook, product delays and other problems are no longer unusual for Apple – November 20, 2017
Apple delays HomePod release to early 2018 – November 17, 2017
Apple CEO Tim Cook: The ‘operations genius’ who never has enough products to sell at launch – October 23, 2017
Ars Technica reviews Apple TV 4K: Vision less than fully realized – October 9, 2017
Apple reveals HomePod smart home music speaker – June 5, 2017
Apple’s desperate Mac Pro damage control message hints at a confused, divided company – April 6, 2017
Apple’s new TV app shows just how painfully behind Apple is – December 14, 2016
Apple is misplaying the hand Steve Jobs left them – November 30, 2016
Apple has no idea what they’re doing in the TV space, and it’s embarrassing – November 3, 2016
Apple delays AirPod rollout – October 26, 2016
Taking on the $179 Apple TV 4K, Roku unveils $99 Roku Ultra with 4K HDR capability – October 2, 2017
Apple delays release of watchOS 2 due to bug – September 16, 2015
Apple delays HomeKit launch until autumn – May 14, 2015
Apple delays production of 12.9-inch ‘iPad Pro’ in face of overwhelming iPhone 6/Plus demand – October 9, 2014
Tim Cook’s mea culpa: iMac launch should have been postponed – April 24, 2013


    1. I disagree with all these extremely negative remarks. Yes there is always room for improvement but these direct personal attacks of Tim Cook, especially by MND, are moronic. Apple has grown exponentially into an enormous conglomerate since Jobs, and I am amazed they do not have major significant issues, I am impressed with their engineering and production group ability to coordinate and synchronize the literally thousands of operational units cycle after cycle. Give Cook a break, Jobs made a brilliant choice as he understood the enormous complexity Cook was handling, and now on top of that, the CEO issues as well.

      1. Nice try, but sorry Tim Cook is Steve Jobs biggest mistake. Read the MDN take again, no one can argue Cook is a great CEO. He needs to go, the sooner, the better for all the Apple products that languish, are forgotten, are discontinued or are LATE TO MARKET.

        Get a grip …

  1. People keep talking about worth… clearly shareholders. What about quality. Focus on the quality and everything else will come. I fear Apple is back to chasing shareholders and it’s all about ‘growth’ instead of the quality that Jobs focused on. FOCUS ON QUALITY AGAIN.

    1. No. Focus on delivering. Real tech companies ship. If it doesn’t ship, if its not upgraded, if its not built, its vapor. Cook builds solar panels, bird chopping windmills, and has tea and finger sandwiches with Hillary. Fed up with him. Try hiring a normal person for a change, Apple.

      1. What you propose isn’t mutually exclusive with what themacgod wrote.

        Both quality and accessiblity are important. Problems are obvious that the current multimillionaire caretaker executives who rode Jobs’ coat tails have totally lost touch of Steve’s vision for offering great value — ie, quality that everyone can justify and afford. Moreover, Steve offered more consistent quality across a great range of hardware that empowered the owner. Nothing released by Tim & Co. Shows any vision beyond responding to what the competition rolls out, and all power is being yanked from the device owner to the cloud server. Bad direction as Apple becomes just another Big Brother that was parodied by Apple themselves in 1984.

        I will never buy a Home Pod spy device from any company. I am not interested in renting music. I don’t need Siri to direct me to one of a few websites that are easily bookmarked from any cheap internet appliance.

        I could use a Mac that has current hardware specs, the ability to choose a large 4k or better display, and easily support new and legacy peripherals without hundreds of dollars of adapters and breakout boxes. Is that too hard for you now Apple?

        1. Cook was the right man in the aftermath of Jobs demise he studied the ship and helped the company become a much bigger entity than that under Jobs. However he really is reaching his sell by date now perhaps a bit beyond it in fact.

          If he had kept the factions below him under control (which he may have done) and been the wise head to listen and choose the correct way ahead in terms of specific product development when no doubt Jobs free many of them were bickering between themselves and options were numerous and conflicting. But certainly that latter side of that argument has been pretty abysmal and the excuse that focus has been lost on the new Campus only so valid.

          AppleTV was bad enough, the lack of decision in the Mac and indeed even the iPad till recently inexcusable but the HomePod performance is an absolute disgrace closely aligned to the siri debacle, these technologise were there to exploit years ago the media were explaining the merits of the assistant driven device which for 3 years was about to be launched. And in the end it was just not by the company they suspected. That is too many product errors (and not the only ones theres screens too of course and wifi products) and it is now clear that Cook does not have the vision to decide between competing product development which is likely the main reason they are so often late. We all thought Ive could do that ‘creative’ job but clearly he can design products but not the conceptual aspects of what actual products should be produced so the company is lost on that side of things. Thats what SJ did and we now need someone to do it again in overall charge to present a vision for the future as competition has never been stronger and the need to lead never greater.

  2. Has there been a new product launch that Apple under Tim Cook HASN’T screwed up in some way – be it missed launch window, woefully insufficient launch day volume, half baked software etc?

    1. I read this trying to think of a exception to what you said… and I couldn’t really. Maybe I would argue the iPhone 6s and 7 shipped without a hitch but the new products all had problems in being delivered on time. It’s kind of embarrassing.

      The very fact that Apple had to show us they were working on a iMac pro to appease users is embarrassing enough.

  3. Superlative take, MDN.

    Other than not mentioning no new iMacs for Christmas years ago, although you certainly pointed it out clearly at the time, yes, a comprehensive list of Apple misfires under Cook.

    It is incredible how much money Apple could be earned if products were delivered on time as promised, particularly CHRISTMAS, for chrissake!

    I’ve said it before and will keep saying it — Cook is clueless to ALL Apple embodies beyond the iPhone gravy train, courtesy of Steve.

    When MDN rightly states Ballmer could have had the same turn key success running Apple, ah, what else needs to be said?

    That would be Apple needs a new and aware hands on deck CEO. The sooner, the better …

  4. Apple’s HomePod will have to get Siri ‘right’ or even the new Sonos with Alexa (and soon with an update, Google Assistant in one device) will be selling better than it even when it launches.

  5. Apple was at a high during the latter Sculley days. During 1990 Apple was selling more personal computers than any other company… more than IBM, more than HP, more than Compaq, more than anyone. Apple, especially on Wall Street, was considered nearly invincible.

    Then the “be all things to all people” happened. There was a huge expansion into many different versions of “professional” computers (the Mac series) and the “non-professional” series, the cameras, the PDAs, etc. The list is almost too long to enumerate. By 93/94 Apple was selling computers to resellers at such a loss, it was almost more financially viable to give them away to charities and take the full write-off.

    This is starting to happen again. Several variants of “pro” and “non-pro” iPads. Several (16!!!) variants of the iPhone currently shipping. Several “pro” and “non-pro” laptops. There will soon be several variants of “pro” and “non-pro” iMacs. There will supposedly be a small form factor Mac (the rumored refresh of the Mac mini) and a “true Pro Mac” (the claimed refresh of the Mac Pro) again next year. There are four different operating systems. There are many different Apple branded applications across iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS that seem to lurch back and forth between being consumer, pro-sumer, and pro variants. There are audio products and such (Beats).

    About the only things that haven’t shown up are the long rumored Apple TV and Apple Car. (Thankfully there are no rumors of Apple launch vehicles or Apple satellites, but those might be coming next year.)

    Getting focus with such a diverse product base is *EXTREMELY* difficult. Apple needs to find a way to get that focus on each segment and start to get it right and on time, or it needs to shed some of its product line.

    1. Diverse product base? Apple? Hardly.

      Apple has a tiny product lineup. For a company the size of Apple, it’s a microscopic product lineup.

      If you want to see a diverse product lineup, take a look at Samsung. They’re not just a smartphone company, they also make washing machines, medical equipment, ships, oil refineries, chemicals, and they run amusement parks, sell securities, and are a life insurance company.

      Apple can’t even be bothered to build a server these days, it’s somehow too hard for them to build a new mac mini even though it’s really just modified Intel reference design, and they haven’t updated the Mac Pro since 2013

      And they thing innovation is taking away the home button on the iPhone.

      No, Apple’s problem is not that the product lineup is too big. It’s that it’s too small.

      1. No, Apple’s problem is not selling wash machines or solar panels, it’s simply that Apple cannot be trusted to deliver products on time and cannot be trusted to release products free of defects. Apple is disorganized and leaderless. Tim Cook is merely a figurehead at Apple because he really can’t perform as CEO.

        1. Apple works to it’s own deadlines, no one elses and that’s how the world most innovative companies behave – just look at Tesla which is exactly the same.

          “Quality takes time and time creates excellence” – Pete Burrows

      2. Excellent indictment against the largest company in history with the “microscopic” product line that they have a problem with updating on a regular basis.

        Starting with the MacPro, Mac Mini, all Macs really and neglect of pro software. Then Apple got out of the server market with NO good reason.

        It just hit me. Cook is not concerned with Apple roots and all things Mac related. That’s old school and passé to his urban erudite highness. He probably sees Apple as a portable fashionable tech gadget company and nothing more.

        I could be wrong, but just follow the breadcrumbs …

  6. Apple under Cook has done some remarkable things. I also believe the future has even more in store. It is sometimes easy to overlook how massive Apple is and where all the moving pieces are. While others have the luxury of building far fewer of almost anything, Apple must think in the tens of millions. The technology for producing the technology often has to be invented to do what they do. Whatever the reason for the delay in HomePod it is likely a good one. Others wanting to meet a deadline would simply omit features and sacrifice quality. The typical consumer may even be unaware of the shortcuts taken. Apple has never been about making the quarter numbers, or shipping for shipping sake. It has always been about providing the best product possible to the highest standards. The iPhone X is a marvel and we are likely to come to appreciate the notch and what it makes possible. Sometimes these decisions can only be understood in retrospect, so far they have been right on the money, …and lots of it.

    1. Agreed, Apple is doing remarkable things. It must take three or four years from conception to ship date to produce an iPhone. That means there are several overlapping teams developing hardware and software and coordinating manufacturing and procurement and distribution. Funny how the armchair CEOs think they can just wave their hands and make this stuff happen. Apple now sells about 20 million Macs a year and about twice that many iPads. Apple now designs their own processors for iPhones and iPads which are far ahead of the competition. Congratulations Tim Cook and everyone else at Apple.

      We haven’t seen the HomePod yet so we don’t know why it is late. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt till it ships.

      1. When the largest company in history with the largest cash pile in history and the greatest office design digs in history CANNOT get it done on time, there is NO “benefit of a doubt.”

        Stop kidding yourselves delusional fanboys. The sooner Clueless Cook is replaced, the better …

  7. I suspect building the new Apple HQ absorbed untold man-hours of work over the past several years. It’s not easy to build a house and move house and accomplish your work at 100%.

    1. With all their money and thousands of employees, not buying that excuse.

      They pay contractors to build and furnish the spaceship. Doesn’t affect the employees time for more than hour to move a couple of boxes of personal items.

      The problem with Cook is priorities. Gay Pride Patade marching or work on the modular and expandable MacPro?

      Everything is taking way too long to produce …

  8. Under Tim Cook Apple was 4-5 years ahead with AI (Siri) of Google and Amazon. Now Siri is dead last. Missed the larger screen market with the iPhone 5 and let Samsung get ahead with Phablets. Purchased Beats for 3 Billion when at the time Netflix could have been purchased for 18B (Now over 100B to purchase). Apple was the first company to rent a streamed movies or tv shows.Yet left behind by Netflix and Amazon. This latest disturbing HomePod story is the latest on missed opportunities. How many lost Billions upon Billions upon Billions does a CEO get who is enjoying the view on a Jet that someone else built (Steve Jobs). How many billions where wasted on Project Titan. Why does Apple trade at a multiple lower than Clorox? The Tim Cook discount. So sad the available opportunity is again slipping away. This company could be far greater that it is. I am very sick of hearing about a new campus when AirPods are still hard to get. Focus on the company and great products not an ego campus.

    1. Comprehensive list of Apple’s missed opportunities the last five years. First out of the gate has not be kind to Apple recently since they no longer excel at yearly innovation updates and allow competitors to copy, innovate and pass them by. And we’ll all know how Apple has allowed most Macs to either on the upgrade vine.

      “This company could be far greater that it is. I am very sick of hearing about a new campus when AirPods are still hard to get. Focus on the company and great products not an ego campus.”

      Ego campus, indeed. We all know who needs to go …

  9. The reason Apples Stock price is so high is because the Central Banks are using Quantative Easing, to print wait for it $15 trillion so far buying up stocks, Assets, Bonds this includes the ECB, Swiss CB, Bank of Japan.

    They cannot keep doing this as it creates inflation and huge bubbles currently being experienced. Anybody remember the bubble? Its happening again how can companies trade at more that 20x their profits, soon the ventral banks will sell off these assets and things will collapse

  10. Audio issues at Apple are continually stuffed-up, and this Apple speaker project is just one of the victims of this chaos. In part this was a hangover from Steve Jobs’ hiring of a clown named Tomlinson Holman. Holman was the “brains” behind THX – a film audio system that is now widely seen to have been grossly flawed. Cinema audio has suffered from these wrong standards for decades, mostly at the hands of non-engineers like Holman. Steve sought out Holman to design a sound system for his then under-construction yacht, and the unemployed Holman talked himself into a “guru” position at Apple. He is the subject of derisive comments from the “real” audio engineers at Apple but no one wants to fire him due to his malaprop connections to Steve Jobs. Holman and his partner Fritz Koenig spend most of their time doing battle with their Yucca Valley neighbors and wider community. Koenig was charged with child-pornography related harassment of neighbor children. And along with Holman they attack the wider community for being homophobic.

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