Editorial: After taking the premium tier, HomePod will expand in markets Amazon and Google...

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  • Reply 81 of 98
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,398member
    I bought my HomePod on week 1. It sat there for a while being useless for about 6 months before being put in a cupboard. I don't have Apple Music and don't need it. I get perfectly good music thrown in with Amazon Prime which I buy solely for the free next day delivery.

    If Apple could just make the HomePod useful, I'd happily buy another to have stereo. Playing internet radio, playing Amazon music and making Siri actually worth using over Alexa would be a massive step.
    bigtds
  • Reply 82 of 98
    elehcdn said:
    I think the thing that most detractors are failing to notice in the article is that the HomePod is designed by a hardware company that was designed for people who want to buy speakers whereas the Google and Amazon products are simply loss leaders designed to drive services. It's pretty funny to see people here complain about the HomePod only being useful for people in the Apple eco-system when both Google and Amazon products are built to do nothing more than to bring people into their ecosystem.

    Apple's competition is the Sonos and the article points out that they are outselling them even though they are recent in the market. Plus the added value they have with the HomePod is the voice assistant.

    It also says a lot about the lack of technical knowledge that critics have when trying to compare the HomePod to other speakers simply based on the external shape. There is a huge amount of engineering inside the HomePod (using beam forming, bass management and digital signal processing) that maximizes the acoustical environment when there is just a single speaker. As the article points out, there is a huge misunderstanding of the how the speaker was designed to work when reviewers immediately trot out the need to buy 2 HomePods to get "stereo" when the speaker has mics and processing to adapt itself to produce its room filling acoustic environment.
    Well stated. The engineering is top shelf.
  • Reply 83 of 98
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,541member
    ...if they had an audio focussed (only) option (iCloud free, SIRI-less, external audio in, frequency EQ only 'adjusting') I'd open my wallet, yet the potential privacy (ie. hack) and Apple dependencies on this have kept me at bay... Everything Apple releases now seems to require more data and more iCloud. No thanks. Could this potentially be Orwell's worst nightmare ?
    What you have described is a general purpose speaker, which you can purchase from any number of companies.  Why would Apple ever develop "just a speaker"?
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 84 of 98
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,541member
    It is pretty easy to see the differences between Amazon & Google approach to "smart speakers" compared with Apple's.  Apple had (and has) no need for cheap mic speakers to provide a voice assistant - they have well over 1 billion devices with this capability which people carry around (or wear) everywhere they go.  Amazon (which started the market) had nothing, and Google didn't have the same reach/use for G. Assistant as Apple's Siri.  So Amazon developed the loss leader Echo - and the market took off when they introduced the Echo Dot, selling in most cases for around $30 USD.

    When looking at the use cases after a few years, the #1 use case was playing music, followed by things like asking the weather, setting timers, reminders, and some trivia.  I am sure that shaped Apple's go-to-market approach.  Apple doesn't do "cheap", and clearly they believed that "playing music" was the best way for them to go, with other functions as well.

    Regarding Apple strategy, it would seem HomePod is like Apple TV -> a high end accessory to access Apple services (music, Siri, iCloud...) for those that want the best Apple experience (easy to setup, integrated, blah blah).  However - Apple is also supporting many services on other platforms (Music on Android as well as Amazon Echo, iTunes and TV+ on Samsung and other TVs).  So Apple is acknowledging that their services do need to reach other endpoints - lower priced endpoints - but that doesn't mean Apple will follow suit (have they introduced a very cheap ATV stick?).

    The main issues I see for HomePod adoption:
    - Advertising and awareness.  I don't see this at all, so this is a clear headwind.
    - Price.  $350 isn't a lot, but it isn't addressing recent competition.  A $299 base price, with discounting down to say $249, along with advertising, would move the needle (with Apple fans).
  • Reply 85 of 98
    bigtdsbigtds Posts: 167member
    elehcdn said:
    I think the thing that most detractors are failing to notice in the article is that the HomePod is designed by a hardware company that was designed for people who want to buy speakers whereas the Google and Amazon products are simply loss leaders designed to drive services. It's pretty funny to see people here complain about the HomePod only being useful for people in the Apple eco-system when both Google and Amazon products are built to do nothing more than to bring people into their ecosystem.

    Apple's competition is the Sonos and the article points out that they are outselling them even though they are recent in the market. Plus the added value they have with the HomePod is the voice assistant.

    It also says a lot about the lack of technical knowledge that critics have when trying to compare the HomePod to other speakers simply based on the external shape. There is a huge amount of engineering inside the HomePod (using beam forming, bass management and digital signal processing) that maximizes the acoustical environment when there is just a single speaker. As the article points out, there is a huge misunderstanding of the how the speaker was designed to work when reviewers immediately trot out the need to buy 2 HomePods to get "stereo" when the speaker has mics and processing to adapt itself to produce its room filling acoustic environment.
    I find nothing that says that's true. Do you have links other than taking DEDs word? Also, Sonos One has voice assistant capabilities. And you can choose either Alexa or Google.
  • Reply 86 of 98
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,192member
    melgross said:
    But realistically, it’s going nowhere. Apple needed to have a much cheaper model as well, when they first introduced this.
    Agreed, this piece should be marked as an editorial (perhaps it is, I didn’t notice that on mobile) since it’s a highly subjective (I.e. biased) perspective.
    Besides the “Editorial” tag, it says it right in the headline. 
    You ignored his acknowledgement of 'I didn’t notice that on mobile)'.
  • Reply 87 of 98
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,192member
    Right now, the thing that stops me from buying a second HomePod is sad state of Siri affairs. I, too, have had HomePod Siri dropping the ball regularly. So often that I manually activate Siri on the Watch or phone rather than spin the wheel with the HomePod.

    And HP Siri is extremely limited in commands compared to Siri on my phone, watch, or iPad. As it stands, the auto quality is good, but not good enough to have me buy another one without much, much improved voice-assistance. 
  • Reply 88 of 98
    Great article Daniel. I find it hilarious that users are still trying to compare it to other similar devices like a sound bar or the aforementioned Alexa devices. It's Apple. They'll press forward with the device until it catches fire, like the iPod, iPad, etc. I have two. I love the "Play everywhere" feature where I start wake-up music in my room and spread it out to the living room / kitchen as I get ready. I check weather, traffic and news before I head out. I come home, play a favorite set of tunes to relax with and watch TV with them as my primary speakers. Like every other Apple product I own, I couldn't imagine what life was like before it. But new models though? Ugh, that feeling of being obsoleted by Apple. lol
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 89 of 98
    No, it's not a great article. The problem with Daniel is that each time somebody has the adventurousness to criticize anything about Apple, even when that person Is a known Apple follower like Kirk, DED vomites his diatribes to him. DED: HoPs are not good sounding speakers, they are not even a decent stereo speaker. If you keep sustaining that, we must conclude you don't have a clue of what you are talking about.

    Kirk is absolutely right. HoPs were promoted by Apple as high fidelity alternative to the crap of "smart" speakers out there (And I agree they are crap: precisely the point). But it fell absolutely short in that, in spite of the spectacular possibilities its stellar technological design could have allowed. It is NOT a stereo speaker, it is a boom-box aberration regarding faithful music reproduction. The fact that it has an array of tweeters pointing in all directions, with some software controlling its dispersion patterns, doesn't make it a "stereo speaker" if it is not properly controlled by software, and working in tandem, software that this now fat-Apple is just too lazy to do. The stereo experience requires a precise and controlled projection of sound, to a specific point in space where the listener is located; it requires a control of the phasing of waves between both speakers, in order to project each instrument at a specific virtual point in space. Requires the recreation of depth of the recorded event. The HoPs do exactly the opposite in all those aspects. The only aim of Apple is to fill with sound the room, not to recover the spatial event engraved in the record.

    Among many disappointments I had with Apple in the recent years, the way they've been handling all what's related with music is the biggest one. Music interface is almost unusable; the flaws in the service counts by the hundreds, and I found new ones almost daily; the unbelievable refusal (approaching 2020!), to stream lossless music (at least, as a paid option) is just infuriating: Apple may have exquisite retina displays, transmit 4K video content in high quality, but an't transmit music in the same HQ fashion, when it would demand a tiny fraction of te bandwidth of video?. The promises unfulfilled by HomePod are perplexing. Not to talk about the performance of Siri as the main way to command HoPs: Siri IS bad by nature; a Siri that has to trust in an inexistent relational database of music is simply useless.

    Why doesn't a pair of HoPs make a better acoustic scanning of the room, given they could triangulate every detected response with both working in tandem, for much better adaptive sound patterns? Why that awfully bass-heavy tuning of the units? Why they can't track users position and give a true *stereo* experience (without that, a pair of omnidirectional speakers only make things worse: they just render a mud of sound)? etc.
    The article hopes for the HoP upgrade coming in two weeks. Apple will certainly move exactly in the opposite direction of the initial promise: a Speaker that would disrupt the home audio market, they way Apple used to do. 

    Knowing I had to upgrade my speakers, I waited and waited for the HomePods first to handle a paired stereo, then to finally arrive to my country -literally for years-. And yet, after all this time they are still not available here. When I finally got them, OMG, what a disappointment!. I end up buying a pair of used KEF LS50 (the passive ones) at little more than the price of one HoP, and the quality is order of magnitude better than that boom-box of Apple. THAT is nice stereo, DED, not the HoPs! THAT is, at least if not even better, what Apple was supposed to do with the HoPs! Then I wonder: why the spectacular ten anechoic chambers they built, why the stellar team of world renowned acoustic engineers recruited for the project, why all that: for that piece of sh...?

    In the end, I think Apple at some point in time lost sight of what is the true purpose of this product. I think that low IQ of Iovine had much to do with that, he must have pushed the company to make the boombox HoP finally is, just like his Beats headphones crap. And the result could be -awfully- listened.
    bigtdsgatorguyavon b7
  • Reply 90 of 98
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,205member
    macgui said:
    melgross said:
    But realistically, it’s going nowhere. Apple needed to have a much cheaper model as well, when they first introduced this.
    Agreed, this piece should be marked as an editorial (perhaps it is, I didn’t notice that on mobile) since it’s a highly subjective (I.e. biased) perspective.
    Besides the “Editorial” tag, it says it right in the headline. 
    You ignored his acknowledgement of 'I didn’t notice that on mobile)'.
    Yes, but he should have because it's in the headline, even on mobile. Try it on your mobile and see.
  • Reply 91 of 98
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,205member

    mieswall said:
    No, it's not a great article. The problem with Daniel is that each time somebody has the adventurousness to criticize anything about Apple, even when that person Is a known Apple follower like Kirk, DED vomites his diatribes to him. DED: HoPs are not good sounding speakers, they are not even a decent stereo speaker. If you keep sustaining that, we must conclude you don't have a clue of what you are talking about.

    Kirk is absolutely right. HoPs were promoted by Apple as high fidelity alternative to the crap of "smart" speakers out there (And I agree they are crap: precisely the point). But it fell absolutely short in that, in spite of the spectacular possibilities its stellar technological design could have allowed. It is NOT a stereo speaker, it is a boom-box aberration regarding faithful music reproduction. The fact that it has an array of tweeters pointing in all directions, with some software controlling its dispersion patterns, doesn't make it a "stereo speaker" if it is not properly controlled by software, and working in tandem, software that this now fat-Apple is just too lazy to do. The stereo experience requires a precise and controlled projection of sound, to a specific point in space where the listener is located; it requires a control of the phasing of waves between both speakers, in order to project each instrument at a specific virtual point in space. Requires the recreation of depth of the recorded event. The HoPs do exactly the opposite in all those aspects. The only aim of Apple is to fill with sound the room, not to recover the spatial event engraved in the record.
    No one claimed a HP is stereo. A single HP does channel separation and bounces the separated channels in different directions. For a single-unit, shelf-speaker solution, that's fine. Its use case is not a "listening room" for positional audio. Dur. It's to fill a room for 300 bucks. Mission accomplished. 

    I enjoyed one so much I bought a second for true stereo, and retired my bulkier receiver + Anthony Gallo 5.1 speaker system. While the HPs are not as good as the $2000 setup, they are much, much smaller and easier to manage. That's a win for my non-listening room use case. 

    Nobody in their right mind believed or claimed HPs are attempting to create a three-dimensional "spatial event" to a "specific point in space". You are judging the HP product on something it was never intended to do. That problem is yours, not Apple's.
    edited August 2019
  • Reply 92 of 98

    No one claimed a HP is stereo. A single HP does channel separation and bounces the separated channels in different directions. For a single-unit, shelf-speaker solution, that's fine. Its use case is not a "listening room" for positional audio. Dur. It's to fill a room for 300 bucks. Mission accomplished. 


    This is exactly what DED wrote, dude:
    "He also makes the bizarre claim that "it's a mono speaker." HomePod is not a mono speaker. A mono speaker is a single speaker that can only deliver a single channel of audio, resulting in its sound clearly appearing to come from one source. Stereophonic sound uses multiple speakers to deliver at least two slightly different sound channels to create a wider soundscape. HomePod is a stereo speaker. It uses a ring of seven tweeters to send out stereo sound that creates a wide, surrounding sense of stereophonic sound reproduction.
    Apple also supports a feature that lets you "stereo pair" two HomePods to deliver even wider sound..."

    Both DED and Apple claim that HoPs ARE stereo speakers. Apple spent large minutes in one presentation specifically in this point. And, btw, if you talk about "high quality sound", this, stereo imaging, is the very first thing you must acomplish. By its very non directional nature, unless software modifies its current behavior (which Apple isn't doing, as it would need to track the user for that), it is not. That is clear as water. But Kirk McElhearn dared to mention it. And so, he is condemned to hell, right?
    gatorguymuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 93 of 98
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,409member
    In my opinion, Apple released the HomePod as more of a place keeper than anything else. A way for them to place their flag in the sand while they waited for the market to come into better focus. It is not their true vision of smart home audio, nor was was it meant to be seen as such. Apple has proven time and time and time again that they are absolute masters of the second-mover advantage. So, they’ll just sit quietly off to the side until need starts catching up to novelty, then make their move and destroy the competition. 

    History has shown that first-mover advantages erode over time. Was Toyota the first to market with cars? Samsung with tv’s? Obviously not, but nobody can deny that they are among the most successful companies on the planet. It will be the same here, because like it or not, smart homes and smart audio ARE the future. In 10 years this whole saga will rate less than a paragraph in the history books. In 100 years, a sentence. In the meantime, all this criticism and conjecture is nothing more than myopic noise...

    All that said, I have to admit I’m getting a little impatient for Apple to make their move. Bring on the HomeHub!
  • Reply 94 of 98
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 2,071member
    mieswall said:
    No, it's not a great article. The problem with Daniel is that each time somebody has the adventurousness to criticize anything about Apple, even when that person Is a known Apple follower like Kirk, DED vomites his diatribes to him. DED: HoPs are not good sounding speakers, they are not even a decent stereo speaker. If you keep sustaining that, we must conclude you don't have a clue of what you are talking about.

    Kirk is absolutely right. HoPs were promoted by Apple as high fidelity alternative to the crap of "smart" speakers out there (And I agree they are crap: precisely the point). But it fell absolutely short in that, in spite of the spectacular possibilities its stellar technological design could have allowed. It is NOT a stereo speaker, it is a boom-box aberration regarding faithful music reproduction. The fact that it has an array of tweeters pointing in all directions, with some software controlling its dispersion patterns, doesn't make it a "stereo speaker" if it is not properly controlled by software, and working in tandem, software that this now fat-Apple is just too lazy to do. The stereo experience requires a precise and controlled projection of sound, to a specific point in space where the listener is located; it requires a control of the phasing of waves between both speakers, in order to project each instrument at a specific virtual point in space. Requires the recreation of depth of the recorded event. The HoPs do exactly the opposite in all those aspects. The only aim of Apple is to fill with sound the room, not to recover the spatial event engraved in the record.

    Among many disappointments I had with Apple in the recent years, the way they've been handling all what's related with music is the biggest one. Music interface is almost unusable; the flaws in the service counts by the hundreds, and I found new ones almost daily; the unbelievable refusal (approaching 2020!), to stream lossless music (at least, as a paid option) is just infuriating: Apple may have exquisite retina displays, transmit 4K video content in high quality, but an't transmit music in the same HQ fashion, when it would demand a tiny fraction of te bandwidth of video?. The promises unfulfilled by HomePod are perplexing. Not to talk about the performance of Siri as the main way to command HoPs: Siri IS bad by nature; a Siri that has to trust in an inexistent relational database of music is simply useless.

    Why doesn't a pair of HoPs make a better acoustic scanning of the room, given they could triangulate every detected response with both working in tandem, for much better adaptive sound patterns? Why that awfully bass-heavy tuning of the units? Why they can't track users position and give a true *stereo* experience (without that, a pair of omnidirectional speakers only make things worse: they just render a mud of sound)? etc.
    The article hopes for the HoP upgrade coming in two weeks. Apple will certainly move exactly in the opposite direction of the initial promise: a Speaker that would disrupt the home audio market, they way Apple used to do. 

    Knowing I had to upgrade my speakers, I waited and waited for the HomePods first to handle a paired stereo, then to finally arrive to my country -literally for years-. And yet, after all this time they are still not available here. When I finally got them, OMG, what a disappointment!. I end up buying a pair of used KEF LS50 (the passive ones) at little more than the price of one HoP, and the quality is order of magnitude better than that boom-box of Apple. THAT is nice stereo, DED, not the HoPs! THAT is, at least if not even better, what Apple was supposed to do with the HoPs! Then I wonder: why the spectacular ten anechoic chambers they built, why the stellar team of world renowned acoustic engineers recruited for the project, why all that: for that piece of sh...?

    In the end, I think Apple at some point in time lost sight of what is the true purpose of this product. I think that low IQ of Iovine had much to do with that, he must have pushed the company to make the boombox HoP finally is, just like his Beats headphones crap. And the result could be -awfully- listened.
    I thought that the motivating factor for this diatribe (because there usually is some event that sets DED off) was Briane Roemelle appearing on the last AppleInsider Podcast with Victor.  Roemelle is a noted critic of SIRI and by extension HP.   It's well worth listening to;   he's been on other PodCasts like Renee Ritche's.   I expect an anti-Microsoft/Surface in a few weeks editorial.   It's almost hilariously predictable.(I consider Surface Pro a nice product but not as nice as iPadPro but both could use some improvements from the other). 

    And on the issue of HP's dropping connection.   Remember when they used to say of Apple Products "It just works".    
    muthuk_vanalingamavon b7
  • Reply 95 of 98
    melgross said:
    But realistically, it’s going nowhere. Apple needed to have a much cheaper model as well, when they first introduced this.
    From my experience of the HomePod it’s a classy piece of kit but the price point is way too high (and no, I don’t think this is part of a cunning marketing plan) - Bluetooth please.
    For what would you use Bluetooth that is not already better served by AirPlay/AirPlay2? As for your argument about its pricing not being “part of a cunning marketing plan” can you explain (rather than just asserting) why this product using the same strategy that Apple has used time and again (release a single expensive product and latter release some less expensive alternatives), is not what they are doing this time? While I like my HomePods and would not allow an ad device from Google in my home, I have no idea whether the space will ever catch up to its hype. I know many who have Alexas and never use them to order anything. They use them mostly the same way I use my HomePods (play music and turn on/off lights). If they are not acting as the “always on” surveillance devices of paranoid fantasy, I am not sure how they ever generate enough revenue for their creators to make money.
  • Reply 96 of 98
    melgross said:
    According to the latest numbers, the HomePod has a 7% marketshare here in the US. That percentage has been shrinking, from a high that itself was pretty low. It’s well behind the market leaders.

    i have two of them, so I’m not against it. It’s pretty good, for what it does. But realistically, it’s going nowhere. Apple needed to have a much cheaper model as well, when they first introduced this.
    This really misses the point of the whole article.

    Amazon had the big vision that users would make verbal product orders to Amazon as they noticed the need. Part of this was Amazon creating your choice of “delivery day” in your options—presumably you would order a dozen little things and get them all delivered on your chosen delivery day (note that this saves Amazon shipping charges).

    Amazon ads even showed fictional people improving their fictional lives by ordering needed items through Alexa. We can’t say Amazon didn’t try. But after a couple of years, Amazon, in a rare moment of candor, admitted orders through Alexa were trivial in volume. 

    So Amazon is selling these Dots and Echos at no profit, Trojan Horses for a failed longer game of facilitating sales. They allow ease at accessing Prime Music and home automation (if one has that set up in the first place), but the hoped-for outcome never happened. Google does the same thing with its cheap Assistant devices. Google hopes to monetize your requests, and Amazon is going down that road as well.

    That is why market share is a losing proposition. Amazon and Google are fighting to be king of an unprofitable kingdom. This is similar to Samsung and other companies struggling to have top sales in commodity-level cellphones—as the old joke says, we’re losing money on every item, but we make it up in volume.

    Apple’s strategy is to create a device which can help improve the lives of its users (in however a minor way) without needing them to become consumers through the device. Apple wants to make its money through the sales of the device, not from the hoped-for outcome of expected transactions. Chasing after market share through dropping margins and quality (because nobody should ever have to listen to music on an Echo unless in desperation) is antithetical to Apple’s operating principles. Something they could sell for $150 might increase share, but the company will never compete with $35 Dots—because you already have Siri on your iPhone, iPad, and Watch. And $35 is the only way they’d steal share from the loss-leaders from Amazon and Google.


  • Reply 97 of 98
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,423member
    melgross said:
    According to the latest numbers, the HomePod has a 7% marketshare here in the US. That percentage has been shrinking, from a high that itself was pretty low. It’s well behind the market leaders.

    i have two of them, so I’m not against it. It’s pretty good, for what it does. But realistically, it’s going nowhere. Apple needed to have a much cheaper model as well, when they first introduced this.

    Apple’s strategy is to create a device which can help improve the lives of its users (in however a minor way) without needing them to become consumers through the device. Apple wants to make its money through the sales of the device, not from the hoped-for outcome of expected transactions. 

    I don't know that anyone outside of some high-level folks at Apple know what the strategy is, even if there is one. Perhaps they'll expand the line, or perhaps they'll ignore or drop it for now.

    AFAIK Apple has not signaled what if any intent they have for smart speakers, or what monetization ideas they may have if smart-speakers are going to be a focused thing for them. For now it looks like Apple's monetizing would be Apple Music and recovering device investment at the point of sale. Is their own smart-speaker worth the time and effort? Only Apple knows. 
    edited August 2019
  • Reply 98 of 98
    If it's Apple's long term intent to have a middle to upper sound system that is also tied in to home/control and security, fine but I don't think thats how they marketed it initially. Some of the other statements about analysts mis-understanding what Apple was trying to accomplish I find a little condescending. You can't blame reviewers for comparing the HomePod to the devices that seem somewhat similar and that are already in the market advertised. A lot of people, not just critics and analysts made the same leap, and Apple hasn't done anything to correct that impression over the last 2 years. If that's what their end game is I think it is time to say so unambiguously to get back at least some control about how the HomePod is perceived by both critics and the public. Apple's penchant for secrecy and trying to keep their plans hidden has bitten them marketwise a few times, like with the battery fiasco/screen failures on iPhones and the MacBook keyboards a few years ago. When you release a product, if you have expanded plans for that product then THAT is the time to explain those plans, even if you have to be somewhat vague about implementation.
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