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Hearts & Minds

by M.G. Siegler


Apple Needs to Reinvent Itself. It Just Might Be Doing So.

Farhad Manjoo's latest column is on the current state of Apple (a topic near and dear). On the topic of the HomePod:

Yet many of these are omissions that you’d expect in a new device, and Apple will most likely add improvements in updates. What will matter most, at first, is how reliably HomePod can perform the basics.
If you’re a longtime Siri user, your skepticism is warranted. The best thing about Amazon’s speaker is its reliability: Say something from far away, even in a noisy room, and most of the time it will at least recognize what you asked it. Once you get an idea of the kinds of requests it can handle, Alexa begins to seem like a completely natural interface to computers. It responds so quickly that it starts to seem like a helpful member of the family rather than a computer in a can.

I've already stated that I think Apple's music-centric approach here is smart to start. But I also think it will position the HomePod more directly against Sonos rather than the Echo and Google Home, at least to start.

Once Apple makes a few tweaks to extend the HomePod functionality -- meaning, primarily, opening it up to third-parties -- we'll see how Apple is able to do competing against the "Smart Assistants" versus the "Smart Speakers". While there's a lot of overlap, obviously, the positioning is a big part of the battle. Can Apple move HomePod from "music" to "general"?


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