HomePod combines Apple Music and natural voice interaction with Siri.
As consumers, we can argue that a lot of the “new” technology launched in competitive retail isn’t really all that new. Certainly some eye-opening innovations come along every few years – many of us still remember the first time we held a tablet computer, for example – but other than some proprietary features now and then, a lot of the tech we’ve come to rely on is strikingly similar, regardless of who manufactured it.
What’s the angle?
So when news first broke that Apple was launching a very Echo-like, Google Home-like device, many people wondered how it could not only be different, but how it would compete. The simple answer is, it doesn’t even try to.
A speaker with benefits
Apple has billed its HomePod as a music speaker above all else. The fact that it happens to coordinate with Siri only means there’s a little extra boost of functionality that a typical Bluetooth speaker can’t provide. Plus, it’s nice to be able to tell Siri to play music out of your iTunes library with a voice command. The VA will also control connected smart home devices like outlets and lights, just as an iPhone would have done, but all voice-activated.
With a less flashy marketing concept – a speaker that happens to do a little more, rather than a hot-ticket home-based virtual assistant – and a price tag that’s double what the competitors are charging, how does Apple plan to keep up? After all, consumers have had plenty of time to fall in love with Amazon’s Echo or Google’s device. In this case, Apple seems to be banking on brand loyalty among past customers, an industry-wide reputation for stellar products, and the relief of users who can finally have a home assistant/music player that works with an interface they’re used to on the go, namely, Siri.
Wait for it…
Fortunately, Apple does have one other trick up its sleeve, which is the ability to issue updates and incorporate new features without requiring a completely new hardware purchase. If Apple is as good as Amazon at avoiding obsolete devices cluttering up the shelf, HomePod may start out as just a really great speaker but evolve into something much more capable.