Apple HomePod Speaker Debuts, But Is It Too Late?
Targeting Sonos and Amazon Alexa, Apple HomePod aims to reinvent home music with $349 quality voice-controlled home audio speaker that also controls all HomeKit-connected devices.
Jason Knott · June 5, 2017
Though some pundits might say Apple is late to the game in terms of home audio, the company debuted with much fanfare its new HomePod speaker featuring Siri voice control. The $349 speaker was the final product unveiled during the company’s World Wide Developers Conference, getting somewhat muted applause from the gathered crowd.
“We have such a great portable music experience, but what about in our homes?” asked Tim Cook, CEO of Apple to the audience. “We think we can do so much better. We want to reinvent home music.”
Apple executive Phil Schiller then took the stage to unveil the speaker, which stands 6.8 inches tall by 5.6 inches wide, weighing 5.5 pounds.
(UPDATE: See what CE pros are saying about Apple HomePod below.)
Is Apple's HomePod Too Little Too Late?
Apple's HomePod comes on the heels of a moment when Sonos has a 76 percent marketshare amongst CE Pros in the wireless audio category, while Amazon Echo has a 55 percent marketshare in voice control. So where does that leave Apple?
Acknowledging that Apple is late to the home audio party, Schiller said, “None of the other companies have quite nailed it.”
With an image of Sonos in the background, Schiller noted, “Some have created speakers that make music sound good around our homes but these aren’t smart speakers.”
With an image of Amazon Echo behind him, he exclaimed, “Others have worked to make smart speakers that you can talk to, but they don’t sound so great when you listen to music. Our team has been hard at work for many years now on a breakthrough home speaker.”
HomePod can detect spatial energy in the room and direct vocals and sound energy to a focused area. It also adds ambient audio by producing reverb by bouncing the audio off the walls.
“It is remarkable to experience such a spacious sound coming from such a compact speaker,” he noted.
With full access to 40 million songs and 2 million artists in Apple Music, HomePod acts as a home’s “musicologist” to find “the music we love,” added Schiller.
It can even dynamically respond to questions such as: Who is the drummer on this track? Who is singing? When was this song recorded and released?
As a smart speaker, it has full ability using Siri to control any HomeKit-connected device to control lights, scenes, temperature and more.
From a privacy standpoint, HomePod is not listening until activated with the “Hey Siri” statement. All communications to the cloud are encrypted.
UPDATE: Here's what CE pros are saying about Apple HomePod on Twitter.
Don't think it's too late, just think Apple has lost their edge.— Dave Pedigo (@davepedigo) June 6, 2017
Most have not realized that HomePod has no apps, no API. Can’t be compared to Echo with thousands of syntax integrated apps.— Will Price (@willfprice) June 6, 2017
Knee jerk consensus is that HomePod is a threat to Sonos as in “Sherlocked” them. Much less of direct competition to Amazon Echo /Google— Robert Spivack (@SpivR) June 6, 2017
For HomePod important to remember that for preview products, Apple holds back key features for the formal launch - so more surprises in Dec?— Robert Spivack (@SpivR) June 6, 2017
Initial feedback from in-person demos of HomePod - audio is truly awesome (have not heard them myself yet)— Robert Spivack (@SpivR) June 6, 2017
The big advantage of their product is the ML integration - the hub is a means to an end but a unified AI platform on all devices - HUGE— Josh Srago, CTS (@JSrago) June 6, 2017
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at [email protected]
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