The world’s dominant gadget company will start selling the HomePod in a few weeks but it’s very late to the game.
The HomePod is Apple’s take on the smart connected speaker market that has been the domain of Amazon and Google for some time. Apple aims to be best rather than first so the late arrival is no great surprise but, unlike the iPhone, it’s not clear what Apple special sauce can be applied to the HomePod to differentiate it from the incumbents.
Aside from the presence of the Apple logo and a presumably intimate relationship with Siri, Apple seems to think the big USP for its effort will be ‘advanced audio technologies’. This indicates it’s determined to not just take on Amazon and Google, but the likes of Bose and Sonos too. Fair play.
“HomePod is a magical new music experience from Apple,” said Apple Marketing SVP with characteristic understatement. “It brings advanced audio technologies like beam-forming tweeters, a high-excursion woofer and automatic spatial awareness, together with the entire Apple Music catalogue and the latest Siri intelligence, in a simple, beautiful design that is so much fun to use.”
He’s got to be making some of that stuff up, surely. He might have said ‘mega death-ray tweeters and thermo-nuclear woofers’. Assuming these things actually exist, that’s a pretty impressive display of tech exhibitionism. Presumably some of this is designed to sweeten the pill of the price tag.
“We’re so excited for people to get HomePod into their homes, apartments and businesses to hear it for themselves,” continued Schiller. “We think they will be blown away by the audio quality. The team has worked to give Siri a deeper knowledge of music so that you can ask to play virtually anything from your personal favourites to the latest chart-topping releases, simply by saying ‘Hey Siri.’”
The Apple HomePod will cost UK punters £319, which compares to £90 for the Amazon Echo and £129 for the Google Home. It presumably has better audio than either of them but then it wants to at three times the price. Apple bangs on at great length in the press release but adds little other than the features already detailed. As ever it’s probably great kit, but arriving late and at such a price point Apple has its work cut out to acquire significant smart speaker market share.