Apple’s HomePod, the iPod for your home

“Consider Apple’s release of a new music-oriented device priced higher than its perceived competitors — which have already established an enthusiastic audience base over the past few years,” Daniel Eran Dilger writes for AppleInsider. “How can it possibly survive in such a difficult position? The answer was: by being better in key ways that matter to users. iPod went on to become a legendary franchise in personal audio. Now Apple is doing the same thing again in home audio with HomePod.”

“The first iPod wasn’t actually that big of a seller. It took three years of sales before it accounted for over 90 percent of the market for hard-drive-based players,” Dilger writes. “Apple’s iPod destroyed the big, entrenched mega corp; all of the small, nimble, independent innovators and the combined forces of all of the various global licensing partners of Microsoft at a time when the company itself was seen as beleaguered, a fledgling survivor of the Dotcom boom with no certain future —but facing major obstacles and entrenched competition from much larger rivals working in concert to kill it.”

Apple's HomePod
Apple’s HomePod

“Critics portrayed Apple’s new device as comically overpriced and missing important features. Slashdot, a once-influential web portal for nerds, famously dismissed the iPod announcement with the terse appraisal: ‘No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame,'” Dilger writes. “As if they were literally born yesterday and can’t read any archives of the internet offering a glimpse of how things have ever previously happened, thinkers of all kinds are offering their opinions on how a company that is now the largest and most successful maker and marketer of electronics on the planet —and which now has a global retail presence and massive, deep partnerships with every major retailer —won’t be able to sell a new luxury home device priced so terribly high as the $350 HomePod… Calling HomePod a smart speaker is like calling iPod an MP3 player.”

Read more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: This is not to excuse Apple for being slow and quite late to the game, they were and are, and the company should be quite embarrassed, but, as we wrote last May:

Once they finally get something shipping in quantity, it’ll be fun to watch how quickly Apple takes the top end of the market away since Apple’s solution will certainly have unique advantages within Apple’s ecosystem that makes it the obvious choice for Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch users.

As Reddit user Arve stated after HomePod’s unveiling:

1. They’re using some form of dynamic modeling, and likely also current sensing that allows them to have a p-p excursion of 20 mm in a 4″ driver. This is completely unheard of in the home market. You can read an introduction to the topic here. The practical upshot is that that 4″ driver can go louder than larger drivers, and with significantly less distortion. It’s also stuff you typically find in speakers with five-figure price tags (The Beolab 90 does this, and I also suspect that the Kii Three does). It’s a quantum leap over what a typical passive speaker does, and you don’t really even find it in higher-end powered speakers

2. The speaker uses six integrated beamforming microphones to probe the room dimensions, and alter its output so it sounds its best wherever it is placed in the room. It’ll know how large the room is, and where in the room it is placed.

3. The room correction applied after probing its own position isn’t simplistic DSP of frequency response, as the speaker has seven drivers that are used to create a beamforming speaker array,. so they can direct specific sound in specific directions. The only other speakers that do this is the Beolab 90, and Lexicon SL-1. The Beolab 90 is $85,000/pair, and no price tag is set for the Lexicon, but the expectation in the industry is “astronomical”.

So yes, compared to the typical sub-$2000 speaker, the technology they apply may just as well be considered “magic”.

When it finally ships, HomePod will take the high end of the smart speaker market, however large or small that may be. Its seamless integration into the Apple ecosystem will make it the go-to smart speaker for the very best customers – those with strong, coveted demographics (disposable income and the proven will to spend it).MacDailyNews, January 9, 2017

One hour with Apple’s new HomePod smart speaker – January 25, 2018
Apple’s iOS 11.3 beta delivers AirPlay 2 with multi-room playback – January 25, 2018
How Apple is positioning the HomePod and why – January 24, 2018
How I got talked into buying an Apple HomePod despite my reservations – January 24, 2018
Tim Cook says audio quality puts HomePod ahead of ‘squeaky-sounding’ competition – January 24, 2018
Apple’s HomePod arrives February 9th, available to order this Friday, January 26th – January 23, 2018
Apple delays HomePod release to early 2018 – November 17, 2017
Apple reveals HomePod smart home music speaker – June 5, 2017


    1. So?

      A competitor reducing the price of their devices to compete? That’s unheard of!

      However, what does that say about that company and the faith they have in their own products’ ability to compete on other merits?

      The “ouch” should be towards Sonos, not Apple.

      Apple is not at all worried about the competition. It’s blatantly obvious when you look at what they’ve produced; a standalone speaker with a primary feature of being able to interact with Apple Music via Siri. Apple knows there is only going to be X amount of people interested in this device – mainly people who have a subscription to Apple Music.

  1. the outer form of the Homepod had some of the intricacy/ visual appeal of the pictures I’ve seen of the inside of the device. The HPod may sound great, but toilet paper rolls and marshmallows don’t get me going.

    1. So, get the black one. Problem solved.

      And what is wrong with people? Oh no it looks like “X” there’s no way I would ever use it to save my life!!!

      Seriously. You base everything you buy depending on whether it doesn’t look like anything that’s ever existed?

      1. Was the word “everything” used? Do you buy ugly cars? Don’t you think the iMac’s visual stature “snaps” and attracts like no other desktop on the market? Don’t you think Apple’s design legacy is pertinent when discussing their products? I bet your vocation has nothing to do with art/design and your important other chooses room paint color? Speaking of iPh X, I bet you’re one of those that likes the notch because it differentiates “X” from competitors? What’s wrong with people that critique visual merits of an object, or space? Don’t you think suggesting purchasing a black version is bigoted? Michael, are you are raycist, or just one without….?

  2. Lack of multi user accounts associated with voice recognition in a premium Home ( not personal ) product is a big limitation….

    I dont get this…
    Only one person can have notifications and reminders and messaging😳… ok who will that be? My doughter? Son? Wife? Me?
    How does this effect home automation functions?

    1. How about none of you and you continue to get all those things as you do now? Then, when/if Apple adds individual voice recognition, you can also use the speaker.

      However, I’m pretty sure 99% of the people thinking of buying a HomePod are not thinking, “Hey! Wow! I can’t get all my annoying notifications on yet another device in my home! Yay!”

      Seriously, the main point of this device is to use it to listen to music… you really want all that information coming from all those user accounts to constantly interrupt what your listening to?

      1. First, all these option are already there for a single user… so the interruption issue is already there… and Yes i would like to have the choice since i can disable them on the homepod if i wish to.

        Dont forget this is also a home assistant and a home hub !
        People who will be interested in this product will also be interested in its assitant capabilities… and flexibility.

        Lets say; reminders…. only one person can use it in the house hold. If i set it up my wife is out.. if she sets it up im out.. and so on.

        If i have certain personalized itunes playlist i love .. it wont be available if some other person sets it up.
        Siri will not be able to personalize an individual’s taste in music .. it will only have the account holders preferances.
        And If it automatically learns what music is preffered regardless of who the requests are comming from , the account holders preferances will get confused and liiteted with music they dont like.

        Home automation setting… will all individuals in a house hold have access to this or just the account holder?
        If All ….And if different individuals have different setting… will they be forced to use the account holders setting only ?

        Here is the issue.. its a premium speaker and a home assistant. The competition provides multi user access through voice recognition at the fraction of the price.. plus they have better AI a fraction of the price.

        Granted it will sound good/better but its not just a speaker.

        These type of limitations worry me.

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