"Better to be the chief of a small village in the Alps than second-in-command in Rome."


At this point, I've read all the HomePod reviews, and I've found myself left wanting. Some of them make me want to get it just for the (clearly excellent) audio quality. Others make it clear just how lackluster the product -- as it currently stands -- is. Jean-Louis Gassée cuts to heart of it:

So what job does the HomePod do, and for whom? Is it just a music player, or is it a more ecumenical home control device, an companion for all kinds of everyday tasks? Is it a bi-directional communication port to the rest of the world?
Here, we have to pause and realize that the answers to the HomePod JTBD question are fragile and incomplete because the product itself is incomplete. The HomePod that ships today lacks important features such as stereo,  multi-room audio, and a better version of Apple’s wireless Airplay protocol. Over time, the A8 processor and iOS derivative inside the HomePod are likely to provide substantial improvements and make it very competitive compared to speakers that have less hardware and software muscle. But for today, the HomePod is incomplete and its place in the world unclear.

Can Apple iterate the HomePod into a success as they've done with the Apple Watch? It's quite possible. But I'm pretty worried Apple is just positioned incorrectly here, and unlike with the watch, there are competitors who are not. Their best case scenario is that there's a market for smart assistants and smart speakers. Not that they're one in the same...

We'll see. For now, oh the irony:

(Speaking of ushering in a new era, a moment of ironic contemplation is warranted. Introduced as a separate iOS app in 2010 and integrated in the iPhone 4S in October 2011, Siri led the way into the voice assistant space. The irony stems from Apple’s frequent boast they don’t feel they have to be first in any given space but, instead, focus on eventually providing the best-in-class product. With Siri, Apple appears to have done the opposite: Siri first out of the gate but now lagging behind Amazon and Google.)


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