Apple HomePod

The new home entertainment system by Apple

#5 Product of the DayJune 05, 2017



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I think that putting music in the focus is the wrong angle for the product category Apple is attacking. Plus, the price establishes a high entry barrier. Home automation in conjunction with voice assistants is something people can get behind, which seemed to play a minor role. At no point in the presentation Siri's actual voice assistant features — besides the on-device machine-learning for photos, keyboard etc. — were showcased. The 'last slide' in regards to voice commands (like reminders and web searches) seemed rushed; those product aspects unfinished. The release date of December (in 7 months!) amplifies this impression. Amazon is simply dominating this market right now and most likely will strengthen its market position even more over the course of the year. Example: You were able to get amazon's Echo dot for 39€ recently here in Germany. Sure Apple's solution will integrate seamlessly into their ecosystem and probably work very well together with AirPlay 2, but people will just buy 10 Echo dots for the price of one HomePod and just put them in every room. "Audio enthusiasts" can just hook it up to their existing speaker systems and probably still be better off price-wise. Sure there's the privacy aspect, but for the majority of people the broken relationship with Siri and its quality as a voice assistant diminishes this advantage. What Apple should have done: Revamp the AirPort brand as a cheap eero-style no-setup mesh-wifi-network that uses a powerful new 4k Apple TV as its stay-at-home brain!
joshua bradley@airjoshb · Celebrating people, making life better.
@boettges I'm not sure how $349 is a high entry barrier when Sonos has built an entire business on products in the $300-$500 range with no real features besides good sound
@airjoshb Not in the realm of standalone wifi-connected speakers, but in the realm of home automation / voice assistant hubs. The latter is what I meant with the "product category Apple is attacking", which is what the majority of users primarily expected. That it supports some kind of music playback is assumed not the main feature. Users seem to want a voice assistant that plays music, Apple has a music speaker that has voice assistance bolted onto it. I don't think that's the right angle.
joshua bradley@airjoshb · Celebrating people, making life better.
@boettges Your comment is contradictory, first you say they are attacking the home automation category and then say that they made a speaker with a voice assistant. I think Apple is defining their own space in a category that is loosely defined. The approach is totally different—rather than an open, command-required interface, they chose to create an incredible piece of audio hardware and integrate where they are already strong (Music and HomeKit) as well as tackle common areas to make the experience better and more seamless in your life, which is what Apple does. This isn't full-Siri, it is a subset of what makes sense in the home.
@airjoshb This exact contradiction is what I'm criticizing. There is a strong dissonance between what the market currently wants and what Apple will provide. I strongly feel this is Apple's Nexus Q.
joshua bradley@airjoshb · Celebrating people, making life better.
@boettges I don't think there is proof that the market currently wants home autmation/voice assistants. Just like when there were MP3 players before the iPod and smart phones before the iPhone—Apple went on to define both categories, despite having sales of millions of products from other manufacturers, Apple turned both from relative niche to mass-adoption. The HomePod may or not be that, but the market and the category are far from being defined today.
Sasha Lah@sasha_lah · Maker in the making
@airjoshb @boettges that was 10 years ago. The technology was new and sonos had the market cornered. Every speaker does this now. Even sonos has lowered costs. Also they aren't doing as hot atm.
Eon@eonpilot · Swift dev @
@boettges I applaud your indepth analysis. But you never makes what we want, apple makes what we will want.
@eonpilot Sure, that is their (and any other product design driven company's) intention. And boy did they live up to this measurement, when Siri was first introduced almost 6 years ago. But anecdotally still 99% of the users only use Siri to set timers or dial a contact's phone number, while other companies have gained the users trust in that space over the course of the last year. Cramming the expected features into one slide and prioritizing it lower than music recommendations, is a just bad communication. I'm well aware that you don't need a dedicated speaker for Siri to do it's potential magic. We already have four platforms on which it runs. A mesh-network on the other hand could have "solved home wifi" — a big problem for a lot of non-tech-savvy customers, especially as it is a prerequisite for home automation to work. They still could have thrown in a wifi-speaker and just made it another node. I can only assume that the iPhone and iOS event in Fall will put more focus onto Siri's actual improvements besides photo-indexing, as well as text- and app-suggestions. 😃
Eon@eonpilot · Swift dev @
@boettges Nobody uses Siri. Except right after IPhone 4s came out and we tried it like 30min and was mind-boggled at how cool the "near" future would be. And as for the HomeAutomation I think it won't be through Audio. It will be more circumstantial and way more subtle than audio commands. Ref: Ambient intelligence / ubicomp. Also we now work in open landscape offices and have tiny city apartments. AKA: No talking in the office, and no loud music at home please. And the norm in public transportation is no phone calls. Peace and quite. I will pick up a couple of HomePods tho. Its pretty cool to be able to play chill-hop radio from youtube and effortlessly switch over to AppleTV and watch the latest GOT episode, off the same speakers. And the occasional pause/play audio command for rest room breaks I suppose :)
Daniel P Dykes@danielpdykes · VP, Aeotec, IoT chap
@boettges Targeting this at home automation is extremely tricky. There are two major home automation markets; retail and installer. After 10 years in these channels, here's my take. For installers, a product with a price point of $3xx is no issue particularly when it's an interface for the broader system. The problem for installers is that the HomeKit ecosystem isn't broad enough yet (no demand versus something such as Control 4) and that this is an accessory you can buy and plug in yourself: no margin for an installer here. For the retail channel, most consumers are price focussed - $3xx isn't going to wash versus a Dot or even the more expensive Google Home. Head over to /r/homeautomation and take and you'll see the typical response: DIYers and the retail channel won't broadly spend $349 on a voice interface. Especially one that is yet to get its own broad API (skills). Within home automation, retail is the most price conscious market. Music is a totally different beast. This is a high quality (high enough for non audiophiles) speaker plus features. You're going to get great music - Siri won't be 100% what other platforms might offer today, but it's the music experience will always best. And for all we hear about home automation, right now there's a lot more money in delivering music brilliantly than there is in delivering home automation brilliantly. Consumers spend very differently in both categories, and their spend on HomePod is backed up by their spend on a Music subscription. HomeKit offers Apple no obvious recurrent revenue (today).
Jacob Hobbie@linkchef · Student
@boettges If there's one thing I've learned from Apple this last year with the AirPods, especially as a recent Android to iOS convert, it's that whatever we say critically and objectively about them, we don't really know how it's going to turn out until it actually hits the market. Apple still has an amazingly strong brand, and once iOS 11 is out, which is before the HomePod is out, Siri might ACTUALLY be better!
Brandon@getbrandflakes · Cofounder
@danielpdykes @boettges solid analysis here
Amokrane Tamine@amokrane_tamine · Marketing Student
@airjoshb @boettges Sonos is known for "Good sound". Apple is known for the earpods and beats which, for too many people, can be called "bad sound"
joshua bradley@airjoshb · Celebrating people, making life better.
@amokrane_tamine @boettges you may be too young to remember but Apple has created many products in their history which people have loved for their sound and Jobs himself was obsessed with sound and music. You should read M.G. Siegler's quick take on the HomePod which recognizes the approach Apple is taking and that I described earlier, "I think Apple is smart in their positioning with the device as being very heavily predicated around music. That can and probably will change in the future. But for now, that makes a lot of sense to me, for Apple. Or, as Tim Cook put it, “We’d like to reinvent home music.”" “‘These Go To 11’” @mgsiegler
Nick Abouzeid 🕴@nickabouzeid · Social & Ship at Product Hunt
HomePod features! - Siri & Apple Music integration for access to over 40 million songs - A8 chip for real-time modeling & advanced echo cancellation - Just under 7 inches tall, available in black & white for $349/ea - Multiple HomePod support - AirPlay compatible, so you can play your music all around the house - high-excursion subwoofer with a custom amplifier - array of seven beamforming tweeters for consistent 360º audio - multiple layers of security (anonymous ID & encryption) for privacy
Marat Ryndin@maratryndin · Product Designer, Edgewise Networks
@nickabouzeid Is Apple Music the only way to play music on this thing? Would be the #1 reason I wouldn't get one.
Matt Horton@mattahorton · Product Manager, Capital One
John SchenkHiring@johnschenk · Founder at Taffy
@nickabouzeid Amazon should get in bed with Sonos. Boom.
Félipé Upperlife@falemaster · Founder @ Upperlife
Adrien JOLY@adrienjoly · Web developer + JS teacher.
@falemaster I don't think so. This is added visibility for Whyd to show a product crafted with love, specifically for music lovers.
Daniel P Dykes@danielpdykes · VP, Aeotec, IoT chap
@falemaster They can't be thrilled to come in some $150 higher. But if their PR can get journalists doing comparison articles (works with more music platforms) ahead of December, it could still translate into a benefit.
Richard Ginsberg@richardginsberg
Based on my experience, Alexa just crushes Siri. This will be strictly for the Apple fanboys at 2x the cost. First mover advantage would have justified pricing 2-3 years ago. #metoo
@richardginsberg I'd expect a device with 7 microphones to outdo devices with 2 mobile class mics. Apple will surpass Amazon within 2 years
Jacob Hobbie@linkchef · Student
@richardginsberg Maybe, I'm hoping Siri will be better now. Plus, I don't use half of Siri's features either, so if there is better audio, good home automation integration, and basic traffic/weather/news, I'm good.
Marat Ryndin@maratryndin · Product Designer, Edgewise Networks
@richardginsberg And Google Voice search crushes Alexa.
Félipé Upperlife@falemaster · Founder @ Upperlife
hmm... Looks familiar to me!