Tim Cook says hardware, software integration puts HomePod ahead of competition

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2018
Tim Cook on Tuesday offered a peek into Apple's ambitions for HomePod amid a landscape littered with smart speakers powered by Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant, suggesting the key to success lies in Apple's ability to seamlessly integrate hardware and software




Speaking to the Financial Post during a visit to Canadian e-commerce firm Shopify, Cook cast doubt on the effectiveness of business models Amazon and Google are utilizing to spread their virtual assistant technology.

Specifically, the Apple chief questions whether licensing Alexa and Google Assistant to third parties, then launching first-party products like Echo and Google Home, is a counterintuitive strategy.

"Competition makes all of us better and I welcome it," Cook said. "(But) if you are both trying to license something and compete with your licensees, this is a difficult model and it remains to be seen if it can be successful or not."

Apple, on the other hand, operates largely within the confines of its own walled garden. Siri is not licensed to outside parties, meaning Apple and only Apple can produce a smart speaker featuring the voice activated assistant. Like other Apple products, this approach grants complete oversight of hardware, software and services integration, presenting an opportunity to create a user experience from whole cloth.

The approach has served Apple well; iPhone is a case in point.

Cook went on to tout HomePod's sound quality, an oft-repeated refrain echoed by other executives and HomePod promotional material.

"We think one thing that was missing from this market was a quality audio experience, a very immersive audio experience," he said. "Music deserves that kind of quality as opposed to some kind of squeaky sound."

Some view Apple as being late to the smart speaker party. Amazon, which in many ways created and leads the space, continues to spread Alexa through third-party partnerships and devices of its own design. It was Alexa integration that dominated this year's Consumer Electronics Show, with hardware manufacturers baking integration for the virtual assistant into everything from speakers to shower systems.

With Amazon clearly in the driver's seat, it remains to be seen whether Apple can convince consumers that sound quality and a premium user experience trump Alexa's wide array of service integrations and lower hardware price points.

HomePod goes up for preorder this Friday with initial shipments due to arrive on Feb. 9.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 121
    The product seems half-baked, features are not ready at launch which should be core.
    mike54williamlondondysamoriaSpamSandwichsandorrepressthis
  • Reply 2 of 121
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,630member
    The product seems half-baked, features are not ready at launch which should be core.
    Having read this article, I don’t think it is half-baked. I’d say it’s light and fluffy on the outside, but a tad doughy in the middle. 

    I suspect that not many people are going to buy two, not straight off at least. 
    chabigStrangeDaysbrertechlolliver
  • Reply 3 of 121
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,876member
    The product seems half-baked, features are not ready at launch which should be core.

    I completely disagree that it is missing core features. First of all, to make use of either missing feature, you need more than one HomePod or other AirPlay 2 device. “Core” features are those that allow the device to work as a Siri powered speaker that integrates well with Apple Music (or your iTunes library).

    Having the ability to sync with a second HomePod to create stereo sound is an additional feature that will work when and only when you have a second HomePod in the same room.

    Being able to play music multi-room is an AirPlay 2 feature, not a HomePod feature. When Apple finally releases AirPlay 2 all of Apple’s iOS devices will be able to play multi-room audio (Macs and Windows PCs have had the ability for a long time). Just as the AppleTV will have multi-room audio eventually, in its current state, it works just fine as is.
    magman1979williamlondonchabigbrertechlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 121
    kevin keekevin kee Posts: 1,044member
    The product seems half-baked, features are not ready at launch which should be core.
    It doesn't missing core features. It is missing an 'additional' features for wider stereo by linking multiple speakers. This is not a core feature, this is extra and you will get that. It is designed to be fully functional for 1 speaker with multiple tweeters. Stop whining and start thinking smarter.
    magman1979williamlondonchabigtechnoStrangeDaysbrertechlolliver
  • Reply 5 of 121
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,975member
    The product seems half-baked, features are not ready at launch which should be core.
    So just like every other new product category from Apple? I don’t see a problem with that. I do have a problem when products are released with features being touted that aren’t “fully baked,” like we’ve seen with all the me first companies. There’s a difference between being “half-faked” and being fully-baked but without the frosting and sprinkles that you expected.

    PS: No offense, but are you even a consumer for this product category? It seems to go against all the things you rally against with technology and potential gov’t. spying.
    edited January 2018 dewmekudumagman1979brertechlolliver
  • Reply 6 of 121
    I think a lot of people buy Alexa or similar devices thinking they’ll use them for a lot of different purposes, but end up using them mostly for music, with the occasional weather forecast, etc. But the Apple device seems to be the first one optimized for music, its actual “core” purpose. So it could be a good upgrade for people who got used to the convenience of Alexa, etc. but want something that sounds (and looks) better. 
    williamlondonguerroStrangeDayspatchythepiratelolliver
  • Reply 7 of 121
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,453member
    I think a lot of people buy Alexa or similar devices thinking they’ll use them for a lot of different purposes, but end up using them mostly for music, with the occasional weather forecast, etc. But the Apple device seems to be the first one optimized for music, its actual “core” purpose. So it could be a good upgrade for people who got used to the convenience of Alexa, etc. but want something that sounds (and looks) better. 
    We won't know if it's really optimized for music until we hear it - marketing hype means nothing.   And with all these devices, I don't know how we perceive going back over 60 years to mono sound systems is perceived as "optimized for music" unless one wants to argue that the largely crappy new music released today, largely created within ProTools, doesn't need stereo.


    caladanianwilliamlondondysamoria
  • Reply 8 of 121
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,953member
    Wonder if Cook realizes that Amazon's Echo and Google's Home are also products that demonstrate the integration of hardware / software, 
    hhaggisdysamoriaasdasd
  • Reply 9 of 121
    By the same logic, Siri won't interact well with third party lights, thermostats or vacuum cleaners. You don't need to own the hardware to offer a good experience. Besides, look at the most common home gadgets - thermostats, security cams, smoke detectors, streaming audio and video. Google owns each of those. Lights are also popular but I've never had a problem controlling them with Assistant on Google Home or a third party phone.
    Solirogifan_newdysamoria
  • Reply 10 of 121
    mike54mike54 Posts: 339member
    Tim Cook has released this product and he needs to sell it, so he says what he needs to say.

    However, for this price they should of put in an A11 cpu and 3gb ram. Yea, probably not needed for now but for this price it may future proof it more.
    The A8 cpu with 1gb ram was released in 2014.
  • Reply 11 of 121
    "Competition makes all of us better and I welcome it," Cook said. "(But) if you are both trying to license something and compete with your licensees, this is a difficult model and it remains to be seen if it can be successful or not."

    This quote tells us that Apple will license its Car OS and not build a car.
    asdasd
  • Reply 12 of 121
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,953member
    By the same logic, Siri won't interact well with third party lights, thermostats or vacuum cleaners. You don't need to own the hardware to offer a good experience. Besides, look at the most common home gadgets - thermostats, security cams, smoke detectors, streaming audio and video. Google owns each of those. Lights are also popular but I've never had a problem controlling them with Assistant on Google Home or a third party phone.
    The reason HomeKit didn't take off as Apple has hoped is because initially Apple had tight security and certification requirements via Apple-required hardware chip.  From what I understand, that has changed.  Apple still requires vendors to abide security / certification requirements but it now done through software so it's easier and less of a burden for vendors.
    coolfactorbrertech
  • Reply 13 of 121
    I will never trust Goolag & Leftist Alexa's Mics inside my home. Siri ,is already great on the phone. It will obviously improve ,and I believe the trust of Siri will help sell it.
    edited January 2018 jdgazlolliver
  • Reply 14 of 121
    Most of the tech community is living in a damn bubble. Siri is bad ,Alexa is good ,BS.
    chabiglolliver
  • Reply 15 of 121
    "Competition makes all of us better and I welcome it," Cook said. "(But) if you are both trying to license something and compete with your licensees, this is a difficult model and it remains to be seen if it can be successful or not."

    This quote tells us that Apple will license its Car OS and not build a car.
    License it to who? No automaker needs Apple here. They’re all alread doing their own thing (and probably way ahead of whatever Apple is doing).
    JWSC
  • Reply 16 of 121
    Most of the tech community is living in a damn bubble. Siri is bad ,Alexa is good ,BS.

    It's easy to make a blanket statement like that, but that does not make you an authority on the subject. It only tells us _your_ experience with the services.

    My personal experience is that Siri is VERY good at what I need her for. She does not fail me very often.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 17 of 121

    mike54 said:
    Tim Cook has released this product and he needs to sell it, so he says what he needs to say.

    However, for this price they should of put in an A11 cpu and 3gb ram. Yea, probably not needed for now but for this price it may future proof it more.
    The A8 cpu with 1gb ram was released in 2014.

    I definitely agree with future-proofing, but that's more than hardware specs. My retail store runs on a 2007 Mac mini that won't update past 10.5, and it still works great! A tad slow, but I can still run functioning software on it. That's a testament to good design.

    The HomePod likely will never need the full processing power than the A8 already has. The first version will likely last for 10 years, easy, as long as the cloud (server) connections still work.
    lolliver
  • Reply 18 of 121
    An Apple employee who worked on HomePod tweeted that anyone who wants good sound with no surveillance should get a HomePod. Really? So that’s going to be Apple’s marking plan? I’ll keep my Bose Soundlink Mini which has great sound and doesn’t need to be continuously connected to power.
  • Reply 19 of 121
    "Ahead of the competition"

    Well, he would say that wouldn't he?

    Never mind Tim, I won't be buying one or any other ''Home assistant' for that matter.
    As for sound quality, my proper HiFi system, does very well thanks.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 20 of 121
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,942member
    mike54 said:
    Tim Cook has released this product and he needs to sell it, so he says what he needs to say.

    However, for this price they should of put in an A11 cpu and 3gb ram. Yea, probably not needed for now but for this price it may future proof it more.
    The A8 cpu with 1gb ram was released in 2014.
    The NPU is a perfect match for anything voice related or noise cancellation, voice enhancement etc. I suppose the A11 will appear on this at some point. Maybe multi user support could be added via voice identification too.
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