Will Apple's Second Bet on High-Fidelity Audio Pay Off?


Cook said. "Just like what we did to portable music, we want to reinvent home music". Spotify already does this but it should help Apple catch up on the discoverability/social side.

Similar to Google and Amazon smart speakers, the HomePod has an intelligent voice assistant baked in.

Apple played up the rich speaker quality of HomePod, and synched it with the company's music service that boasts 27 million subscribers. Likely, yes. Apple is known for many things, iPod, iPhone, Macbooks, iPad, nano's minis and much more. If Apple is trying to unseat Sonos from the high-end audio market, it's an uphill battle at that price. "We are discussing how we think of connected devices and coming up with the principles that will guide what we're going to do to be live on the Home Pod". Much like with Siri, Apple is just simply doing less than its competitors here.

Currently, Apple's smart speaker does not have anything unique to give it an edge over the other two, as well as justify the higher price tag. For those seeking stereo sound, or multi-room audio, Apple's new AirPay 2 will make that feasible. Apple will enter the market behind Sonos in the speaker game; and behind Amazon and Google in the speaker game. By choosing a music-first, premium approach, Apple appears content to let Amazon win the numbers battle with its lower-cost smart speaker.

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Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, actually did the honours of unveiling the HomePod - but not before taking a swipe at the competition, saying that none of them "have quite nailed it yet". Instead, these products use complex algorithms to scour the Web for the answer you're looking for.

Amazon has a lot to lose with the release of the HomePod given that it dominates the market for voice-controlled speakers.

On Wednesday during a WWDC session called "What's new in tvOS?", Apple did reveal tvOS 11 and there's not an very bad lot to it, on the front end.

However, letting Amazon blanket the mass market with $49 Echo Dots does not mean Apple is ceding the virtual assistant market to Amazon. Siri on iOS only got third-party extensions a year ago, and developer options there are still extremely limited in what Apple will allow devs to build, despite the fact that Siri beat nearly every other digital assistant to market. It, too, comes with a built-in speaker and voice controls through the smart assistant Google Assistant. After all, the next iPhone is a mere three months away, and all we're seeing is leak after leak of what the purported iPhone 8 may look like. At WWDC, Apple announced the speaker category for HomeKit, so other speaker makers could more tightly integrate with iOS.

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While Apple did finally open up Siri access to third-party apps last year, and has further done so this year, many developers still feel it is too little too late.

On the Amazon Echo, conversations with Alexa are also encrypted in transit and at rest from your device to Amazon's cloud servers and "securely stored", a spokeswoman said in an email. You need to connect the speakers to the internet, and they will send your queries to Google, Amazon or Apple servers respectively, and they will send an appropriate response back to the speaker.

Secondly, it suffers from the same compatibility issues as any other Apple product: it only plays Apple Music.

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