Even long before the launch of the iPhone in 2007, Apple has been known to introduce groundbreaking products into the market. The company which played a very important role in the revolutionary introduction of personal computers also broke grounds when it introduced the iPod. It also shook the market with the introduction of the iPad which took over the computer tab market instantly.
However, there are indications that the launch of the Apple Homepod which the company will start shipping on February 9 this year, may be a dud. The Homepod is a smart speaker in the mold of Amazon Echo and Google Home and will be powered by the Artificial Intelligence of the of the equally revolutionary digital assistant of the company, Siri. We do not think that this product will make as much as an impact as the other Apple introductions and here are our reasons.
Late Entry into the Market
The Apple Homepod has been expected since early 2017 but the company delayed this product until this year. There are indications that there is little space left for a new smart speaker brand as Amazon and Google have eaten up a lot of space. Even Microsoft has since collaborated with Herman Kardon to come out with its own Cortana product, Invoke. There may be little market right now for a new brand of smart speakers, except it offers something very unique. We are yet to hear about any groundbreaking feature from the Homepod.
Yes, Apple has over the years managed to keep up with its standard as a company that deals in very high-end products. The company has somewhat become synonymous with expensive products and it would rather not downgrade when it comes to smart speakers. Hence, it is pricing the speaker at $349. That is very expensive for a smart speaker. Yes, Google Home Max is in the market for $399 but it is an option from an array of Google Home products like the Home Mini which sells for $49 and Google Home which sells for $129. Amazon Echo sells the Dot for $49.99, the Spot for $129, the Echo Plus for $149.99 and the Show for $229.99. If the Homepod is not revolutionary, there is no how buyers will be enamoured enough with it enough to pay the high price, especially since a lot of them already own smart speakers.
Siri’s Subpar Intelligence
Though it was a big deal when Siri was introduced by Apple years back, the tide has since shifted and Artificial Intelligence has gone some notches higher. Google Assistance seems to have taken the cake in this regard while Amazon’s Alexa follows closely. Hence, Siri needs a significant improvement to make an impact as a smart speaker. No wonder, Apple wants to market the Homepod as an audiophile and not necessarily a smart speaker .
Alexa still leads the way in the area of home integration as Google Assistant battles to meet up. At the launch of the Apple Homepod, there is little hope that Siri will up its home integration game. Hence, this might keep buyers still off the product for some time. Apple is marketing this device as an audiophile but it has to really perform very well in this area to make an impact.
Apple sure likes to keep its products within its own ecosystem and the Homepod seem not to be an exception as we learnt that it is shipping with just Apple Music as the music service it is integrated with. Of course, Apple TV will also be there. The other smart speakers in the market also have their own music services like Amazon Music Unlimited and Google Play Music but they are also integrated with a lot of other third party music services like Pandora, Spotify and Deezer. People want freedom to choose.
There is a chance that there is a wow factor that Apple is keeping close to its chest until the launch of Homepod. The company has consistently promoted the audio quality of the product, yet it has to do remarkably better than Sonos which has equivalent products that are less expensive but powerful and well received. There isn’t much to the design. we wait for the release