As Apple's HomePod misses Christmas, Amazon Alexa tops App Store charts for first time

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in Future Apple Hardware
In a first for the app, Amazon Alexa has topped Apple's U.S. App Store charts, backing claims that the Echo Dot speaker was the top-selling item on Amazon.com during the holidays.




The Alexa app has held on to the top spot since Christmas Day -- its first time ever atop the charts, TechCrunch noted. The Alexa iOS and/or Android apps are vital to setting up an Echo speaker, for instance enabling Wi-Fi pairing, configuring smarthome functions, and choosing default music services.

Earlier in December the app was typically ranked in the 60s through the 90s, suggesting that many Americans were gifted an Echo for Christmas. Aside from the Dot and the standard Echo, other models include the Echo Plus -- which doubles as a smarthome hub -- and the display-equipped Echo Spot and Echo Show.

The app has hit second place on the U.K. App Store, and fifth in Germany and Austria, suggesting strong sales in those markets as well.

Amazon announced this week that the Echo Dot was the No. 1. selling Amazon device this holiday season, and the best selling product from any manufacturer in any category across all of the online retailer. The company said it sold "millions" of Echo Dots, but declined to provide any specifics.

Separately, U.S. downloads of the Google Home app rose from 38th on Christmas Eve to sixth on Christmas Day. That could point to healthy numbers for Google's Home, Home Mini, and Home Max speakers, but the app is also essential for the company's Chromecast media streamers.

The popularity of Amazon and Google's smartspeakers could create problems for Apple, which has had to postpone its $349, Siri-based HomePod speaker until early 2018, missing the holidays entirely. People already invested in Amazon and Google products may be unlikely to mix-and-match platforms.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 83
    dachardachar Posts: 330member
    I wonder why Apple announced the HomePod when they did and yet months later nothing has appeared. Was it a spoiler against Amazon and Google’s products ? 
  • Reply 2 of 83
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,696member
    dachar said:
    I wonder why Apple announced the HomePod when they did and yet months later nothing has appeared. Was it a spoiler against Amazon and Google’s products ? 
    There's little doubt it was, but there is an actual product coming for purchase. Just not announced as such yet.
    Every big tech knows what every other big tech is working on, at least in generalties. Silicon Valley is relatively small and employees move around. People talk. 
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 3 of 83
    NY1822NY1822 Posts: 561member
    I mean, who has not yet downloaded youtube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. by now? not a surprise that a gift/purchase would prompt an app download
    edited December 2017 racerhomie3mavemufcwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 83
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,673member
    dachar said:
    I wonder why Apple announced the HomePod when they did and yet months later nothing has appeared. Was it a spoiler against Amazon and Google’s products ? 
    I'm sure Apple had every anticipation of releasing HomePod for the holidays, but saw that it needed more work to make it function up to Apple's standards. I'd rather they did what they did rather than just release it for the sake of releasing it and fixing everything later....kinda like Apple Maps. Yes, it sucks they missed the holidays, but I think its better to miss that and save yourself from a potential disaster than just release it to honor a release date. 

    That being said, I'm sure it won't be 100% perfect when its released. Nothing ever is from any company, but I'm sure it will be a lot better than if they just released it in December. 
    racerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 83
    For Apple's sake, they better have a significantly superior product to overcome the popularity Amazon's Echo has gained.
    cecil444anantksundaramlostkiwisunwukong
  • Reply 6 of 83
    I wonder how Amazon mak3 on echo dot....
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 83
    zroger73 said:
    For Apple's sake, they better have a significantly superior product to overcome the popularity Amazon's Echo has gained.
    The echo is cheap. I’m sure a lot of purchases are people just trying it out because the cost of entry is low. But is this the next big thing or is it another cheap fitness tracker that gets shoved in a drawer after a few months?
    patchythepirateandrewj5790StrangeDayslostkiwi
  • Reply 8 of 83
    Echo is discounted on Amazon already. Dot by 40% and 2nd generation by 20%. If it was selling so well, why would they discount it around the holidays. Something doesn't add up.
    andrewj5790lostkiwiracerhomie3watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 9 of 83
    Unfortunately Siri still needs a lot of work to bring her up to Alexa's capabilities.  I really hope Apple has drastic improvements in store.
    sunwukongwatto_cobraargonaut
  • Reply 10 of 83
    Other than remembering to say "hey siri" instead of "alexa" (which is not a trivial thing to remember), I suspect there isn't much of a network/incumbency effect for alexa.

    I suspect this because, from what I've read and personally experienced, there hasn't been much take-up of the entrenching features of alexa and google home (smart home controls, connection with lists, etc.).  It appears that they are mostly used to set alarms, play music, etc.  Even music may not hook people too deeply in unless there are well-curated playlists as I understand that the libraries of each subscription service are roughly the same.  We are reasonably tech savvy (and, in fact, to try to understand the use cases of always-on listening, bought both an Echo and Google Home when they were each first released, as well as a dot when it was first released) but have not created an IFTTT workflow or enabled meaningful skills for either.  And, because needed, we created a dedicated google account for the Home but haven't really integrated calendars and similar.  We use both daily and heavily but almost exclusively for: radio, news, timers, alarms, and music (uploaded in the case of the Home; amazon prime in the case of Alexa).

    That said, given that spending dollars are limited, purchased alexa devices have of coursed squeeze out some portion of homepod purchases.  But, if some large portion of those alexa buyers figured "I can take a risk on this as it is $30", maybe even that squeeze out is not so meaningful as we have a sharply different price point.

    All of the above also means that homepod may not have much stickiness.  It will depend on how Apple handles iCloud accounts.  A home device ideally will work with multiple iCloud accounts which raises very difficult security and privacy issues.  How do I make sure that a reminder goes to MY reminders list and not my kid's?  How do I keep my notes or emails distinct from my kid's?  iMessages?  Very very tricky.
    dewmelostkiwiargonaut
  • Reply 11 of 83
    zroger73 said:
    For Apple's sake, they better have a significantly superior product to overcome the popularity Amazon's Echo has gained.
    The echo is cheap. I’m sure a lot of purchases are people just trying it out because the cost of entry is low. But is this the next big thing or is it another cheap fitness tracker that gets shoved in a drawer after a few months?
    How quickly we forget that the cost of entry for the iPod was similarly low. And similar to the iPod, the primary use for the smart speakers will be to play music, which people aren't going to suddenly stop doing. In other words, for most people, the Echo and the Home will simply be another small bluetooth speaker. And since small bluetooth speaker quality varies widely being able to get a quality, name-brand and 100% supported bluetooth speaker for as little as $29 - as opposed to the off brand Chinese equivalent that normally dominates at that price range - is a lure that should not be underestimated. Just get a name-brand one instead? Please. You will often see devices no better than the Alexa or Home going for 2-3 times as much. 

    I see that a lot of Apple fans are dismissing this category merely because it was one that Apple didn't originate by comparing it to fitness trackers. Never mind that Apple has only originated or disrupted with 3 devices - the iPod, iPhone and iPad - which leaves the entire rest of the tech world to others. And yes, this includes speakers, a market that Apple has little penetration or reputation in even after buying Beats. But here's the deal: tech products that tend to fail are those that are electronic/computerized versions of pre-existing successful and widely used non-electronic ones. Non-electronic fitness trackers (think pedometers) long existed, were never widely used, so there was no reason to think that they would ever be successful. In fact, the main lure of early fitness trackers was precisely the fact that you could pair them with your iPhone and use the iPhone to collect and track data. They were sold as iPhone accessories, NEVER as standalone devices. And since smartphones also had the very same health tracking features, they were redundant. They were also useful to people who were ALREADY bikers, joggers, gym rats etc. but worthless to everyone else. 

    But the iPod? It replaced the walkman and other portable radios/cassette players with a superior device. The iPhone? It replaced cell phones, which while not saturation ubiquitous like they are now, were still very common (imagine the opening sequence of "The Matrix" without them being so) as well as iPods and to a degree PCs. The iPad? Combination iPhone/PC/casual gaming console. That's why they were huge successes. They were new, better ways to do popular existing activities. The same way with Alexa and Google Home. At the very least, you get a very good Bluetooth speaker for $79. Before you claim that no one wants or needs those, you should state that Apple should stop selling the Beats Pill, especially if they are going to charge 3 times as much for it. The "smart" features for it? Sure, claim that there is any difference between saying "Hey Alexa" to your speaker and "Hey Siri" to your Apple TV or MacBook. There isn't. All it does is take a pre-existing successful product - a connected speaker - and add functionality to it that was popularized by Apple with Siri. The only reason for thinking that it would fail is having some strange notion that only Apple is capable of or deserves the right to create a successful product. Which, again, is bizarre because Apple makes only like 6 products: iPods, iPads, iPhones, set top boxes, watches, PCs.
    holyonexzu
  • Reply 12 of 83
    zroger73 said:
    For Apple's sake, they better have a significantly superior product to overcome the popularity Amazon's Echo has gained.
    The echo is cheap. I’m sure a lot of purchases are people just trying it out because the cost of entry is low. But is this the next big thing or is it another cheap fitness tracker that gets shoved in a drawer after a few months?
    With the exception of my mom who doesn't understand most of the capabilities and/or forgets that she has one, the rest of my friends and family members have been very pleased with the performance and usefulness of their Echo devices (myself included).
    sunwukong
  • Reply 13 of 83
    eskaric said:
    Echo is discounted on Amazon already. Dot by 40% and 2nd generation by 20%. If it was selling so well, why would they discount it around the holidays. Something doesn't add up.
    Because that always has been and always will be Amazon's business model, which prioritizes market penetration over per device margin. Not everyone uses Apple's business model. There are plenty of other business models out there. You'd think that after spending 10 years predicting Android's failure because Google wasn't getting $100-$300 for every Android device sold like Apple was for every iPhone and iPad, you would have learned that by now. 
    Solibloggerbloggatorguyanantksundaramsunwukong
  • Reply 14 of 83
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,433member
    dachar said:
    I wonder why Apple announced the HomePod when they did and yet months later nothing has appeared. Was it a spoiler against Amazon and Google’s products ? 
    Apple almost always announced brand new product categories about 6 months ahead of time. It's better for Apple to control the announcement. I guess it's possible that Apple announced vaporware they knew would never be ready for the holiday shopping season so that people wouldn't buy Amazon Echos, Alexa-powered devices (see: Sonos One), and Google Home devices, but that's a pretty poor plan and really only works once you have a market category lock-in where you keep customers hanging on to your old products—which Apple has none at this point—instead of jumping to a competitor. MS was famous for this in the 90s by keeping customers on their SW with the promise of something better than the competition (often for free) coming soon. 

    zroger73 said:
    For Apple's sake, they better have a significantly superior product to overcome the popularity Amazon's Echo has gained.
    I obviously can't tell you whether they will or not, but Apple does have an amazingly long history of offering disruptive products in well established markets. 


    eskaric said:
    Echo is discounted on Amazon already. Dot by 40% and 2nd generation by 20%. If it was selling so well, why would they discount it around the holidays. Something doesn't add up.
    They've been discounted since Black Friday, if not before. This is common for Amazon which are perfectly content with running at nearly a break-even business, plus knowing that Google is currently trying to capture their marketshare and Apple will coming along soon enough it makes perfect sense for them to solidify their base as much as possible. This is not an indication that no one is buying their devices, only that they have enough supply (and possibly profit margin) that they can afford to protect the market they created.


    waverboy said:
    Unfortunately Siri still needs a lot of work to bring her up to Alexa's capabilities.  I really hope Apple has drastic improvements in store.
    Even just put Siri in a device with far-feild microphones will make a huge difference in how well she listens, but overall I agree that the way and speed she responds on iOS leaves a lot to be desired.
    anantksundaram1STnTENDERBITSmuthuk_vanalingamargonaut
  • Reply 15 of 83
    eskaric said:
    Echo is discounted on Amazon already. Dot by 40% and 2nd generation by 20%. If it was selling so well, why would they discount it around the holidays. Something doesn't add up.
    Amazon is willing to lose money on the devices to get them in as many households as possible so they'll pay off in the long term with additional orders and subscriptions. Also, the data collected by these devices is extremely valuable. Amazon could easily pay people to use these devices or give them away and they'd still make money, but doing so would make the average person question Amazon's true motivation.
    fotoformatsunwukongwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 83
    eskaric said:
    Echo is discounted on Amazon already. Dot by 40% and 2nd generation by 20%. If it was selling so well, why would they discount it around the holidays. Something doesn't add up.
    Actually, they are the prices that Amazon wants to sell them at. The initial prices are to catch folks who will pay to be first.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 83
    Kuyangkoh said:
    I wonder how Amazon mak3 on echo dot....
    Pretty much nothing. Amazon wants you to use the Echo Dot to order products from Amazon. That is how they plan to make their money. The same deal with the Kindle. For $39, you get a device that is nearly as good as the $250 iPad Mini (not that Apple sells the Mini anymore). So they probably actually LOSE money for each device that they "sell." (Granted, the normal retail price is $79 but they are almost always on sale for $39). But if you use that Kindle to so much as subscribe to Kindle Books Unlimited and Amazon Prime, then it is a nice and tidy profit for Amazon in 6 months. And if you decide to buy yourself a pair of jeans and/or a piece of furniture while surfing on your Kindle instead of going to the mall to buy them? Even more. Just as Google promotes cheap hardware to the masses to collect data, Amazon does the same to reach shoppers. 
  • Reply 18 of 83
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,433member
    smaffei said:
    eskaric said:
    Echo is discounted on Amazon already. Dot by 40% and 2nd generation by 20%. If it was selling so well, why would they discount it around the holidays. Something doesn't add up.
    Actually, they are the prices that Amazon wants to sell them at. The initial prices are to catch folks who will pay to be first.
    I was one of the first customers to buy an Echo three years ago. I only paid $99 when the retail price it went for was $179 soon after. Since then I've bought 3 others, yet I'm excited to see what Apple will do with HomePod.
    edited December 2017 zroger73
  • Reply 19 of 83
    zroger73 said:
    For Apple's sake, they better have a significantly superior product to overcome the popularity Amazon's Echo has gained.
    The echo is cheap. I’m sure a lot of purchases are people just trying it out because the cost of entry is low. But is this the next big thing or is it another cheap fitness tracker that gets shoved in a drawer after a few months?
    Sounds like someone is butthurt over the fact that Apple completely missed this market and no chance of ever catching up. 

    HomePod will be 2018's equivalent of iPod H-Fi. Only the rabidly faithful will buy it and defend their purchase. Everyone else (with sense) will be telling Alexa to play something on Spotify.
    zroger73
  • Reply 20 of 83
    Do not think that Apple having their smart speaker on the market would have impacted much. You have to remember that this vaunted "Apple ecosystem" thing is mostly hype. The vast majority of people in this alleged "ecosystem" only own 1 Apple device or at most two. Meaning that they may own an iPod or iPad or a MacBook, but few is the household that owns all 3, and even fewer is the household that owns other devices like the Apple Watch and the Apple TV. 

    So, most people who own an iPad or iPhone own Windows PCs, not Macs, and access iTunes on Windows 7 or Windows 10. Lots of MacBook owners LOVE Samsung Galaxy devices. Most also own Rokus or smart TVs by Samsung/Sony/Vizio instead of Apple TV boxes ... or they own Playstations, Nintendos or XBox consoles. So the vast majority of the folks who bought the $29-$79 Echo products are like those: people who are Apple device owners but are not Apple ecosystem people. They mix and match devices from various platforms according to their needs and desires. Such people are going to be far more likely to spend $20 for an Echo Dot that they can control with their Alexa app on their iPhone 6s or 7 than spend $350 for an Apple speaker. Only a diehard Apple ecosystem type is going to have an interest in that. 

    And by the way ... even a diehard Apple ecosystem type would still not necessarily be against buying an Echo Dot ... just as lots of them have no problem owning a Samsung smart TV.
    xzumuthuk_vanalingam
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