Speakers

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.

Apple HomePod Speaker Debuts, But Is It Too Late?
Apple has released HomePod, a speaker with home control, to take on Amazon Echo, Google Home and Sonos all at once.

Photos & Slideshow

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. 

Apple HomePod is designed to analyze a room's acoustics, adjust the sound based on location and point the music in the optimal direction.

Photos: See what Apple says about HomePod's acoustics, voice control, build, size and weight.


UPDATE: Here's what CE pros are saying about Apple HomePod on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 



  About the Author

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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  Article Topics


Speakers · Loudspeakers · Control & Automation · Automation · News · Products · Alexa · Amazon · Apple · Distributed Audio · Echo · Google · All Topics
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Comments

Posted by Hyasir on June 19, 2017

Homekit needs to come up in the market as a control4 level integration.  Keep the platform open to API, make it more user friendly and have a little more stable version of there kits.

Posted by Steve Cooper on June 9, 2017

I’ll reserve judgement on the HomePod speaker until I hear it. What we do now is install Amazon Echo Dots and wire them (3.5mm male-male wire) to stereo or home theater systems. We’ve even wired them to computer speaker systems in small home offices. Our customers are thrilled. $50 per room gets them voice control over their music, smart home gadgets, the news, their calendar, messaging and voice connections to other Echo users, and other goodies. Plus you can tuck an Echo Dot out of the way and out of sight. We don’t get any margin on the echo, but we’re happy to order and install them alongside the other equipment (where we do get some margin) and we’re, of course, happy to get our labor rates for the install / setup time.

$350 for a voice assistant would be a much tougher sell. I don’t think Apple is too late to the game. The game is still in early innings and Apple does have a really big bat. Their pricing is what will hurt them.

Posted by glennQNYC on June 6, 2017

2018 will be HomeKit’s year.
20mm of excursion from their 4” driver? Impressive! Can’t wait to hear what this fishnet pickle jar can do.

Posted by Bruno Napoli on June 6, 2017

It’s not too late Jason, Apple has always done thing on thier own time schedule.

Everyone was waiting this “Siri in a can” speaker.
Sonos is not anymore the “Luxury” & “Fancy” multiroom speaker anymore: There is a new Sherif in town!

I bet there will be a massive second hand Sonos devices for sale on eBay, and in a way it’s a good thing because a lot of everyday people will be able to have good sound system for half the price.

 

Posted by hmurchison on June 5, 2017

In this case, apples 100% correct. You either have a low cost voice assistant speaker or a better sounding multi-room. The important thing to realize here is that any airplay 2 system should integrate nicely with a homepod setup. Apple cedes the low end to 3rd party and grows the ecosystem

Posted by hmurchison on June 5, 2017

In this case, apples 100% correct. You either have a low cost voice assistant speaker or a better sounding multi-room. The important thing to realize here is that any airplay 2 system should integrate nicely with a homepod setup. Apple cedes the low end to 3rd party and grows the ecosystem

Posted by Bruno Napoli on June 6, 2017

It’s not too late Jason, Apple has always done thing on thier own time schedule.

Everyone was waiting this “Siri in a can” speaker.
Sonos is not anymore the “Luxury” & “Fancy” multiroom speaker anymore: There is a new Sherif in town!

I bet there will be a massive second hand Sonos devices for sale on eBay, and in a way it’s a good thing because a lot of everyday people will be able to have good sound system for half the price.

 

Posted by glennQNYC on June 6, 2017

2018 will be HomeKit’s year.
20mm of excursion from their 4” driver? Impressive! Can’t wait to hear what this fishnet pickle jar can do.

Posted by Steve Cooper on June 9, 2017

I’ll reserve judgement on the HomePod speaker until I hear it. What we do now is install Amazon Echo Dots and wire them (3.5mm male-male wire) to stereo or home theater systems. We’ve even wired them to computer speaker systems in small home offices. Our customers are thrilled. $50 per room gets them voice control over their music, smart home gadgets, the news, their calendar, messaging and voice connections to other Echo users, and other goodies. Plus you can tuck an Echo Dot out of the way and out of sight. We don’t get any margin on the echo, but we’re happy to order and install them alongside the other equipment (where we do get some margin) and we’re, of course, happy to get our labor rates for the install / setup time.

$350 for a voice assistant would be a much tougher sell. I don’t think Apple is too late to the game. The game is still in early innings and Apple does have a really big bat. Their pricing is what will hurt them.

Posted by Hyasir on June 19, 2017

Homekit needs to come up in the market as a control4 level integration.  Keep the platform open to API, make it more user friendly and have a little more stable version of there kits.