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Apple HomePod

  • Apple’s HomePod speaker goes on sale February 9.
  • It’ll be a great device, but it’s much more limited than competing products from Amazon and Google.
  • Apple missed an opportunity to be a major player in voice computing hardware, a growing and popular category now dominated by Amazon.

After about a two-month delay, Apple’s HomePod smart speaker will go on sale February 9.

It seems like a great device, especially when it comes to sound quality. I heard one during a demo last year and it sounded a lot better than competing devices like the Amazon Echo and Sonos Play 3.

But the $350 HomePod will only be a great device for a much smaller addressable market than the competition. Apple has missed its opportunity to break into voice computing hardware, a popular and growing gadget category now dominated by Amazon and Google.

Like I said after CES earlier this month, Amazon and Google now have the lead in voice, and that lead is only going to widen over time as Apple continues to maintain a closed ecosystem.

To recap:

  • HomePod is primarily a music accessory, and its voice controls only work with Apple Music: Like the rest of Apple’s products, the HomePod is locked into the company’s own services, meaning you can’t use the speaker to its full potential unless you’re an Apple Music subscriber. Spotify, Pandora, Amazon, Google Play, and the rest will technically work with HomePod, but you’ll have to beam the music to the speaker from your iPhone using AirPlay, which isn’t as good or as natural as using voice controls. There are 30 million Apple Music subscribers, and I doubt many or even most of them will want to drop $350 on a HomePod when there are cheaper and more capable alternatives.
  • Echo and Google Home are more affordable: You can buy Read More Here