My HomePod, Google Home and Amazon Echo all dwell inside about 15 ft of one another in my residence.
This is as a lot a testomony to my obsession with sensible dwelling crap as it’s to my incapacity to purchase right into a single tech large’s ecosystem. I’ve gone all-in with every assistant at varied occasions however now my whole related life is run by means of a collection of instructions which are held collectively by particular intonations, precise phrasing and talking volumes of which I alone absolutely grasp. I solely maintain the recipes to my MacGyvered related life. (This has made life tough for my roommate who generally has to ask me to show the lights on, however in truth he ought to have identified what annoying techiness laid forward when he noticed me unpacking my VR rig as we moved in.)
This amalgam of chatty sensible assistants has made me fairly in tune with every of those product’s faults, however it’s additionally helped me achieve a deep appreciation for the person strengths of the platforms themselves.
This week, Bloomberg reported that occasions are powerful for the HomePod. Apple is slicing manufacturing, a few of its retail shops aren’t breaking double digit gross sales of the system each day and it solely has a small sliver of the sensible speaker market. This report introduced numerous critics out of the woodwork who heralded the ignorance of Apple’s product technique and harped on the sensible speaker’s normal dumbness and lackluster function set.
Now, I’m not within the behavior of defending near-trillion greenback corporations, however I feel a lot of this criticism is misplaced. The HomePod might be the best-functioning sensible speaker of the bunch, and I’d additionally contend that the corporate’s total technique is much from being “years behind” its opponents. Apple’s AI technique wants some TLC to strengthen Siri, however with the AirPods and HomePod, Apple is constructing a unified entrance on audio that can climate the gimmicks of a market that appears artificially mature to start with.
A misunderstood market
First off, I’ve at all times discovered the “smart speaker market” to be a pie that’s sliced in a weird means. For as intimately tied to smartphones as voice assistants are, saying that Amazon stays the clear winner in a class that excludes the billions of cellular units with deep voice assistant capabilities appears correct however deeply unsuitable on the similar time.
It’s additionally why I don’t suppose Apple must be as nervous about getting a $50 product just like the Home Mini or Echo Dot on the market, as a result of whereas Amazon desperately wants a low-friction…