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Apple HomePod's high-priced road to nowhere • Bloomberg Gadfly
Shira Ovide:
<p>Google and Amazon aren't necessarily trying to turn a profit from their devices, and that is why they're engaging in a price war to the bottom on the lowest-priced versions of their home speakers.

Those companies view the speakers as a gateway to hook people on Amazon's collection of Prime membership benefits or to lure them to Google apps and internet services. Not surprisingly, the lowest-priced speakers appear to be selling the best. Amazon has said its Echo Dot, discounted to $30 from $50, was the best-selling item across its entire product catalog over the Thanksgiving shopping period.

Apple doesn't necessarily want to sell more gadgets than anyone else. Market share didn't matter when Apple could grab the lion's share of profits without having the best-selling hardware. Its gross margin, or the share of revenue remaining after production costs, has been roughly 38% to 40% for years - a level that generates envy among hardware makers. 

But if Apple truly wants to become more than a hardware company, it needs to think different - to steal from a Steve Jobs advertising campaign. It needs the quality of its digital music service, mapping app, Siri, future web video products and more to be up to par and not only good enough to help differentiate its hardware from that of rivals. Apple doesn't necessarily need to sell $50 Siri speakers. But if Apple wants its software and internet offerings to stand on their own, then it needs to borrow from Amazon and Google and make the hardware a means to an end -- and rethink gadget prices, too.</p>


Amazon has a reason to sell Echos: to get people on Prime. Google has a reason to sell Home: to get people to use it to do searches, which they don't do so much on mobile as they did on desktop. Apple's reason to sell HomePods is.. to get them to use Apple Music more? In which case the music quality thing makes sense.
apple  homepod 
4 weeks ago by charlesarthur
The Sound of Music | Asymco
So there is some good reason to honor music at Apple. If it wasn’t for music, Apple would probably not exist today.
Apple  music  strategy  history  iPod  AppleMusic  Shazam  AirPods  HomePod  Asymco  2017 
5 weeks ago by inspiral
Exclusive interview: Apple’s Phil Schiller on how the iPhone X 'seemed impossible at the start' • T3
Dan Grabham:
<p>We say to Schiller that we’ve been surprised at how good Face ID is for Apple Pay. “Yes. That was on a long list of things we knew we had to deliver. The home button, at the beginning, really did one thing. Maybe two. It woke up your screen, and then it let you go to the home screen from any app. And then over the years, we’ve layered on many, many uses – the multitasking capabilities, evoking Siri, you being able to use it for Apple Pay, creating Touch ID for your fingerprint. So Face ID had a much harder job for its first version than the home button had for its first version.”

Apple notoriously doesn’t talk about products in advance (unless it’s the 2018 Mac Pro, when it did), but regardless we ask whether Face ID could appear in more Apple products beyond phones? “We try not to get ahead of ourselves,” says Schiller with the look of someone who may have been asked this question before. “While we have many plans throughout the year for many things, we also are realists in that we need to create something, and that we need to make it great, and that we need to study, and we need to learn… all the user cases all around the world from everybody in every situation, before we then imagine some of the other things we might do.”…

Why the pause [in delivering HomePod]?

“It’s really very simple. It’s a brand new product. It’s a lot of engineering to make it be the product we’ve described, and for it to be what we all hope it can be.

"And I’m actually really proud that we’re a company that will take the time to do something right. Our goal is always not to be ‘most’ but to be ‘best’, and we set high standards. We often exceed those, but not always. And we need to be self-honest if something’s not ready, and continue to work on it until it is."

Schiller is also frank about AI-driven speakers being still very much a developing product category. “Nobody really knows how we all want to use these kinds of products.

"There might not be one product for everybody. And our [focus is] on having great sounding music wherever you place it in your room or your flat, or a great interaction with Siri for a music experience – we think that that’s a great [starting] point for a whole new kind of product in our lives.

“I think others have different perspectives on the things that they’re making, and we’re all going to learn together what we think.”</p>


Also covers AirPods, Apple Pencil, and iPad Pro as a desktop/laptop replacement. I think what he's saying about HomePod echoes the Apple Watch introduction - Apple had an idea for how that would be used which quite quickly coalesced around the fitness angle rather than apps. What's HomePod's one?
apple  schiller  homepod  iphonex 
5 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Apple's HomePod isn't about Siri, but rather the future of home audio • Apple Insider
Daniel Eran Dilger:
<p>Apple's intent for HomePod isn't just being a copy of Echo. Despite a dubious "tell-all" report for Bloomberg by Mark Gurman (the same person who likes to announce on camera how far ahead Amazon is over Apple in its Alexa voice app partnerships) that portrayed Apple's HomePod as a disjointed, incompetently run skunkworks project, the reality is that HomePod is doing something very different than Amazon.

It does not appear that anyone at Bloomberg understands anything about Apple's strategy, but rather only views the company through a distorted lens of other companies' marketing nonsense. That explains why Gurman earlier insisted in 2015 that his sources had confirmed that the second generation of Apple Watch would get a low-quality camera just like Samsung's failed Gear smartwatch. This made no sense at all for many reasons but was received and propagated by other outlets as reliable news, before being forgotten. Years later, there's no camera on Apple Watch.

Like the original Mac, NeXT, iPhone and iPad, HomePod isn't an attempt to merely clone the status quo, but rather an effort to take very expensive new technology and make it affordable to the mass market. HomePod is the pinnacle of Apple's resurgent efforts to push advanced audio technology since its acquisition of Beats. It's not just a wireless speaker with Siri.</p>


HomePod is miles from "mass market". Echo, Dot, Google Home: those are priced for the mass market. Trying to drive mass market purchasing of high-quality audio <em>because it's high-quality audio</em> is doomed to failure. (CDs offered higher-quality audio, but it was their convenience that made them sell.)

There's a legitimate question about how big and how useful the "smart speaker" market can be, but Apple's definitely playing in it. Coming so late to the game, it doesn't have the luxury of redefining the market.
apple  homepod  smartspeaker  amazon 
6 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Why Apple's HomePod is three years behind Amazon's Echo - Chicago Tribune
Apple audio engineers had been working on an early version of the HomePod speaker for about two years in 2014 when they were blindsided by the Echo, a smart
HomePod 
8 weeks ago by TomasMartinez
Why Apple’s HomePod is three years behind Amazon’s Echo • Bloomberg
Mark Gurman and Alex Webb:
<p>Apple audio engineers had been working on an early version of the HomePod speaker for about two years in 2014 when they were blindsided by the Echo, a smart speaker from Amazon.com Inc. with a voice-activated assistant named Alexa. The Apple engineers jokingly accused one another of leaking details of their project to Amazon, then bought Echos so they could take them apart and see how they were put together. They quickly deemed the Echo’s sound quality inferior and got back to work building a better speaker.

More than two years passed. In that time Amazon’s Echo became a hit with consumers impressed by Alexa’s ability to answer questions, order pizzas and turn lights on and off. Meanwhile, Apple dithered over its own speaker, according to people familiar with the situation. The project was cancelled and revived several times, they said, and the device went through multiple permutations (at one point it stood 3 feet tall) as executives struggled to figure out how it would fit into the home and Apple’s ecosystem of products and services.

In the end, the company plowed ahead, figuring that creating a speaker would give customers another reason to stay loyal.</p>


This is pretty much all the original (or useful) reporting in the piece. There's a lot of filler.
apple  homepod 
8 weeks ago by charlesarthur
HomePod delay suggests Siri integration is harder than expected • Loup Ventures
Gene Munster:
<p>Déjà vu. This isn’t the first time Apple has delayed a product release. Today’s announcement brings us back to April of 2007. Apple is working on the iPhone, set to launch in June, and planning on releasing Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard around the same time. On April 12 Apple released a statement saying, “iPhone contains the most sophisticated software ever shipped on a mobile device, and finishing it on time has not come without a price. We had to borrow some key software engineering and QA resources from our Mac OS X team. As a result, we will not be able to release Leopard at our Worldwide Developers Conference in early June as planned. We think it will be well worth the wait. Life often presents tradeoffs, and in this case, we’re sure we’ve made the right ones.”

Did Apple make the right tradeoffs with HomePod? We think so – the damage to the brand as a result of shipping a half-baked product is greater than the potential benefit of pushing it out in time to capture holiday sales. The level of connectivity in Apple’s device ecosystem leads us to believe that HomePod will deliver a superior experience, and loyal Apple consumers will be rewarded for waiting. And the loyal Apple user base would have made up the vast majority of 2017 HomePod sales anyway. In the same Bloomberg interview post-WWDC, Cook added, “For us, it’s not about being first, it’s about being the best.”</p>


OK, it's Gene Munster, but on this he's probably right: people who were going to buy a HomePod will likely hold on.
apple  homepod 
9 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Twitter
How Apple even makes their delay notice sound like an ad „We can't wait for people to experience HomePod,…
HomePod  from twitter
9 weeks ago by lazypirate
Apple supplier eyes smart speakers with facial recognition • Nikkei Asian Review
Cheng Ting-Fang:
<p>Apple HomePod maker Inventec Appliances said on Friday that it expects future voice assistant products to offer 3-D sensing features, including facial and image recognition.

"We see trends that engineers are designing smart speakers that will not only come with voice recognition but also incorporate features such as facial and image recognition," President David Ho told reporters after the company's earnings conference. "Such AI-related features are set to make people's lives more convenient and to make the product easier to use." He added, however, that he was unsure at the moment whether smart speakers with more AI features in the future would become a hit in the market.

Ho did not specify which product he was talking about, but analysts said he is likely referring to the next generation of Apple's HomePod, the $349 voice-activated speaker that will compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Inventec Appliances, a subsidiary of Taiwanese electronic contract manufacturer Inventec, currently monopolizes orders for the HomePod as well as AirPods, Apple's wireless earbuds, according to analysts. It also makes smartphones for China-based Xiaomi, wearable products for America's Fitbit and smart speakers for US-based Sonos and others.

Jeff Pu, an analyst at Yuanta Investment Consulting, said Apple could roll out HomePods with 3D-sensing cameras in 2019.</p>


It's nice to see the conception of bullshit rumours set out in so few paragraphs. Man speculates about the possibility of face and image recognition in "smart home assistants". (Amazon already does this, by the way, in the Amazon Show.) Analyst suggests Apple could do it. Rumours take wing that next HomePod will do FaceID.

Nonsense on stilts which never asks quite how FaceID on a HomePod would (a) work (b) be useful.
homepod  apple  faceid  rumour 
9 weeks ago by charlesarthur

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