Apple’s late, delayed, limited HomePod is looking more and more like something I don’t want

“When HomePod was announced at WWDC in June, it seemed like Apple was finally jumping head first into the smart speaker race,” Michael Simon writes for Macworld. “Like many others, I wanted to believe that pristine music quality was just one of many features Apple was bringing to the smart speaker space.”

“But as more details begin to trickle out about Apple’s plans for HomePod, it’s becoming clear that the new device is more of a voice-controlled speaker than a true Echo competitor,” Simon writes. “While HomePod will work with HomeKit to control smart home devices and respond to general knowledge queries, it doesn’t appear as though it will break any ground that Google Home and Amazon Echo hasn’t already broken.”

“When Apple unveiled HomePod, it was a unique device. No smart speaker on the market had combined high-fidelity sound with AI smarts, and even with a $349 price tag, it seemed like a viable competitor to the $99 Echo and $129 Google Home for people who cared about sound quality,” Simon writes. “But the longer we wait for it, the more it seems it’s going to be the second coming of iPod Hi-Fi.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Focus. Apple’s is not a sharply honed as it should be.

This wouldn’t have happened this way under Steve Jobs.

The HomePod’s internal code name ought to be “Clusterfsck,” but that’s already been taken by the Mac Pro.

Steve Jobs could see the whole picture and into the future. He would inherently know how to use Siri to tie together Wi-Fi connectivity, home automation, Bluetooth, Apple TV, sound reproduction, Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, etc. and he’d direct his staff to work towards the goal(s) he defined. When you lose your visionary CEO and replace him with a caretaker CEO, this is the type of aimless, late, bureaucratic dithering that ensues.MacDailyNews, November 21, 2017

Luckily for Tim Cook, Steve Jobs left him a perpetual profit machine that can absorb pretty much any lackadaisical fsckatude that can be thrown into the spokes.

We can almost see the smiles of the Amazon Echo and Google Home execs from here. — MacDailyNews, November 17, 2017

Missing one Christmas might not seem like a lot, but every user lost to another ecosystem is much, much more difficult to convert into a customer when you finally get your ass in gear and ship.

And, under the tree this year, there will be millions upon millions getting Amazon Echo and Google Home products and into their ecosystems*, not Apple’s.

*And other services, like Spotify instead of Apple Music, for one prominent example.

Apple really screwed the pooch on this one.

Real artists ship. – Steve JobsMacDailyNews, November 20, 2017

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.MacDailyNews, June 15, 2016

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.MacDailyNews, March 29, 2016

SEE ALSO:
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
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 is misplaying the hand Steve Jobs left them – November 30, 2016
Apple delays AirPod rollout – October 26, 2016
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

42 Comments

    1. I wouldn’t buy an echo purely because I don’t trust the privacy of the device. In principal though a cheap device that you can therefore (comparatively) easily afford to put in multiple rooms is a good idea. Homepod is not going to sell in the same numbers as iPhone, I suppose some people will love it and it will serve them fine, but not every Apple customer can afford to buy every product they put out (and even if they could that doesn’t mean they’d want to). I think with something like this they’re missing a trick by not having a range of devices that fill a variety of price points and usage scenarios.

    2. HomePod is useless. So is the Echo. A smartphone does everything. With Bluetooth, any Bluetooth speaker makes it a smart speaker.

      This is a redundant category; the result of the tech industry desparate to create yet another platform.

      How many Echos and other smart speakers actually see any significant daily use?

    1. Exactly. Steve Jobs’ tenure was not an uninterrupted run of massively successful products. There were flops as well, people just gloss over them as they look back with rose-tinted glasses. Cook is clearly no Jobs, but Jobs wasn’t really the Jobs people seem to make him out to be now.

  1. “Steve Jobs could see the whole picture and into the future. He would inherently know how to use Siri to tie together Wi-Fi connectivity, home automation, Bluetooth, Apple TV, sound reproduction, Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, etc. and he’d direct his staff to work towards the goal(s) he defined.”

    Steve Jobs was talking about the iPad back in 1983. I have no doubt he left a very long roadmap for Apple, easily 20 years. The alternative is that we believe that Steve Jobs, a guy who thought decades ahead and described his vision of computing and technology decades ahead, suddenly stopped doing that, didn’t tell anyone his future plans and ideas, didn’t write anything down for anyone at Apple, and just decided to keep his ideas for the next 20 or so years to himself? Give me a break. I think we can only start talking about a post-Steve Jobs Apple a couple decades from his death. There’s no way Steve didn’t outline his vision of a roadmap for Apple 20 years out. Apple will likely have more missteps along the way without Jobs, but at the same time, Jobs also made mistakes. But this idea that Steve left Apple with only a couple years of ideas, that’s nonsense.

    1. I do not think that Apple execs go to the ‘Jobs legacy vault’ and pulls out an idea when needed. Jobs genius was to create a company that creates new products that we did not even know we needed, but can also adapt to change when needed.

      1. There is no Jobs legacy vault, but there’s no doubt Jobs discussed a roadmap with his team at Apple, and given what we already know about how far ahead Jobs was thinking it’s fair to say that roadmap is a couple decades. We agree that Steve’s greatest innovation was Apple itself.

      1. Maybe. There are products on the market that say they do not gather data and still do. There are hacks that can turn on your camera with no light indicating it is on. There are hacks that make your phone look like it is turned off but is actually still on.
        The solution is to not put an always on microphone connected to the internet in your home. From anyone.

  2. Sorry, but another device listening to the inside of my house I don’t want. With alllll the unbridled hacks, intercepts, spoofing, and other assorted dark web BS I say no thanks……!!

  3. For the sake of argument I’m going to assume it sounds really good. That said, you’re not going to use one to replace your main sound system in your living room as you’re going to need at least two and it’s not going to integrate with other sources you have. As a standalone device in another room $350 is a lot to spend for maybe occasional or background listening. As you move to other rooms in the house it just gets harder and harder to justify the expense. Personally I’m happy enough just playing stuff from my phone in the kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom. If you take away any ability to produce sound as a major selling factor you’re essentially looking at a very expensive way of having “hey siri” in one room where you may not have an iPhone that responds to your voice. I’m sure it will suit some people but whereas airpods are a great add-on for use with a phone, and the apple watch is increasingly making a case for usage in it’s own right. This is a very expensive way of filling in gaps in the functionality of existing devices.

    Since I added some homekit devices to my house I have started using siri on a much more regular basis, but my phone is not always with me, my watch is not always on, other family members don’t have them. A small reasonably price apple device with “Hey Siri” functionality which you could have half a dozen of to cover your entire house would be great. I would trust Amazon/Google with voice functionality, but as well as wanting to sell things to people they do appreciate that having low cost devices serves as a way of expanding your ecosystem and consolidating your user base.

    1. By the time Apple releases HomePod, the choice for the consumer wanting Siri on a smartspeaker will be between the HomePod with better sound, or the Sonos One that has lower quality sound but has mesh networking, supports Alexa and Google Assistant in addition to Siri, and at about half the price.

  4. If I’d trust any always-on devices in my home, they’d be ones from Apple over Google or Amazon (or anyone else), since I have way more faith that Apple will protect my privacy. But I just bought a couple of Sonos speakers after the HomePod delay announcement rather than wait for the HomePod (and I got versions without Alexa built in). Sonos speakers are supposed to get AirPlay 2 early next yer, so hopefully I’ll be able to control them with voice from my iPhone with Siri. But they won’t be able to tell me the weather or jokes…

  5. We don’t come here for anti-Apple FUD.

    If Apple delayed the product, they had good reasons.

    When Steve Jobs delayed the white iPhone 4, he had good reasons, too (paint peeling off). They shipped only when ready.

    That’s why we love Apple, not for rushed products. Stop the FUD, at least on this site.

    1. The way some people are whining and moaning about the HomePod being a bit late, you’d think it was the end of the world or something. The HomePod offering is already far behind all the other tech companies’ virtual assistants, so a month more surely isn’t going to matter. I don’t have a need for one of those things so I’m certainly not weeping like some infant. My only wish is that Apple improves Siri up to the specs of those other smart assistants. I just think it’s pathetic how Amazon is always kicking Apple in the groin when it comes to smart business moves. Siri had a good headstart and Apple let it go to waste. I realize these things can happen because no company can lead in everything. Apple should just keep improving Siri with a goal to match and beat those other companies. Apple should team up with IBM and get Watson AI support.

      I personally don’t see what all the fuss is about voice assistants. There’s only so many things I’m going to ask it in a day and since I’m at my computer each day, I can still get my info that way. I don’t want some device listening all the time but it’s not as though I’m going to be shouting all my personal information in the house at any point in the day. It’s really hard for me to fathom that the majority of families have become so dependent upon voice assistants in their daily lives. Why are these VAs so important to Wall Street that they think Apple will collapse without one this holiday season?

      1. Siri was a great novelty when it first appeared in iPhones when no one else had one. No doubt that influenced many first time buyers. Now that competitors have them and are implementing them far better, it is no surprise that VAs are still influential in selling a product. If Apple gains the reputation of having one of the least useful VAs they may be losing out on a nice chunk of the market interested in VAs as a ‘needed’ feature.

      2. The most important issue is Apple failing to deliver on a promise to have the HomePod available for release December 2017. Regardless whether HomePod will be a success or a failure can be discussed on a future date.

  6. No big deal for Apple to do a speaker, as most Apple users value privacy and see no need to pay to install an eavesdropper in their home. Why do you think Google and Amazon are almost paying you to get these in your home?

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