Apple’s Home PodLoses the Battle vs Amazon’s Echo and Google Home
Two years after Amazon’s public release of the Echo, Apple finally released its own voice-first assistant, the HomePod.
At $349, the HomePod is marketed as a high-end speaker with Siri built-in that is in-between Sonos and the Echo/Google Home.
It’s clear that the HomePod has its shortcomings compared to the Echo and Google Home.
Notably, its price is much higher (compared to the $180 Echo, $50 Dot, and $129 Google Home), Siri is widely known to be inferior to Amazon’s and Google’s AI assistants, and it is arriving late to the market.
But although Apple’s HomePod most certainly has its shortcomings and is quite late to the voice-first assistant game, it is nonetheless faithful to Apple’s philosophy — it is just another piece of a simple, seamless, and interconnected system.
Apple’s success — from the iPhone in 2007 to Apple Music in 2015 — has been based on this philosophy, and the HomePod is no exception. Siri is supposed to be the brain of the interconnected system, but she has embarrassingly proven to be underdeveloped compared to her peers from Amazon and Google, and it’s clear that Apple has realised this, given how Siri wasn’t introduced as the selling feature of HomePod.
It’s doubtful that Apple sees the HomePod as a fierce competitor to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. Apple was probably never planning for the HomePod to be one of its signature pieces, unlike Amazon with the revolutionary Echo.
Perhaps, instead of entering a stiff and competitive market as a latecomer, Apple is trying to get into customers’ living rooms by selling itself as a new piece of the home instead of the new centrepiece of the home. And specifically, Apple is betting on the fact that its existing customers of the iPhone, iPad, Apple Music, etc. will want to add a new luxurious speaker to their interconnected Apple home system.
If Apple had seriously wanted to chip away at Amazon and Google, it would not have waited this long to release the HomePod and would have debuted it with ostensibly more compelling features. Apple isn’t banking on the HomePod being the iPhone I in 2007; the HomePod is more of a complement to customers’ existing home ecosystems.
Instead, it’s likely that Apple is just staking out valuable leftover real estate after Amazon and Google in our living rooms via more of a Trojan Horse method. Maybe Apple realises that for now, getting into the living room is enough and has a plan on how to stay there. Who knows, maybe Siri will drastically improve shortly.
Looking to the future, it is possible that Apple simply just doesn’t see its future as a leader in the voice-first assistant space. If we consider the HomePod in the context of what else was announced at WWDC 2017, it pales in comparison. Apple’s announcement of ARKit, which will provide AR capabilities on iOS, was the most significant announcement directionally for Apple.
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