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Why the HomePod Faces an Uphill Battle

Apple has officially delayed the HomePod until next year, and many reports indicate that, unlike the standalone Amazon Echo, it will depend on a connected iPhone for most of its smarts. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has gathered the inside story: the HomePod has been in development for over five years, was originally conceived of as a modern iPod Hi-Fi, and its designers were blindsided by the Amazon Echo. But despite the Echo’s success, Apple focused on sound quality and not voice assistant capabilities, which may prove problematic in the market. Regardless, the HomePod will have a hard time competing on audio quality alone, since you can buy several Amazon Echoes for the price of one HomePod.favicon follow link

 

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dshelbyd  An apple icon for a TidBITS Supporter 2017-11-23 09:47
“Apple focused on sound quality and not voice assistant capabilities, which may prove problematic in the market.”
Not for my “market”! I will opt for sound quality over gimmickry - masquerading as smarts and, at no extra cost, multiple hacking opps - any day. Let the mass market choose gimmicks. My choice always will be based on the purpose of a speaker.
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Josh Centers  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-12-07 11:30
Most people do not care that much about audio quality. And people who do care that much about audio quality will probably buy a better speaker than what Apple releases, or they've already invested in something like Sonos.

I think it's a smart bet that most people would be more interested in whole-house audio than audiophile-quality sound. And from what I can tell, the Echo isn't a bad speaker.
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Ernst Messmer  2017-12-07 11:14
"The HomePod will have a hard time competing on audio quality alone, since you can buy several Amazon Echoes for the price of one HomePod."

No number of lousy loudspeakers will ever achieve the sound quality of a single good speaker. You cannot achieve quality by increasing quantity! Hence the comparison is irrelevant.
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Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-12-07 11:28
But we're not comparing CD quality to weak AM radio — the Echo is totally acceptable quality for a vast number of people. So the HomePod will likely be better, but at a cost that's enough more that many people may see their money better spent extending sound throughout the house with multiple Echoes.

We'll see when it ships!
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