Earlier this month Apple announced its new device called HomePod, a voice-controlled speaker you can interact with using Siri. Apple seems to be placing a lot of focus on the music aspect of this unit, more so than Amazon or Google have with Alexa and Home.

Apple has a tough uphill battle here; Amazon controls nearly 75% of the home voice-control market, while Google has the other 25%. To make matters worse, Apple still has six more months until release, while Amazon is coming out with its new Echo Touch later this month. While I do not have an early version to test, nor have I seen one in person, I’ll share what I’ve learned so far on how the new Apple HomePod fits into the market and whether you should consider buying one.

Apple HomePod

Quick Specs

Price – $349.99

Voice Control – Siri

Release date – December 2017

Key features – Automatic room-sensing technology and Remote access through Home App

Music apps supported – Only Apple music so far

Apple HomePod Cutaway

First off, from looking at the specs and the large amount of info Apple has shared so far, I feel the HomePod is well-designed for audio lovers. Its Siri integration will be a definite plus and I feel this is where it will shine the most. Seven tweeters, one 4” woofer and six microphones are what we have to look forward to with HomePod. Not much more info has been released as to the audio quality we can expect, so until a hands-on review is done, we won’t know how it measures up. It’s important to remember however, that Sonos already has a very fleshed-out and complete system that allows the user to customize their audio experience for any room. At solid price points that are lower than the HomePod, this may prove a challenge for Apple in the wireless audio market.

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For Apple fans who love Siri and love their music, I’m sorry to say that this is where things go downhill for the Apple HomePod because it is missing some key features that Amazon Echo and Google Home offer for less money. The Amazon Echo Dot is just $50 and the Echo is a bit more at $180. Google Home costs $130 while Apple’s HomePod will sell for a whopping $350! For that price, you could pick up seven Echo dots to place all around your home, or get two Sonos Play 1s for just $50 more, or a Play3 for $50 less. I feel that if the HomePod sold for a more reasonable $199, it might have a better shot at knocking Amazon off its voice-control throne.

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So, about those missing features. Google and Amazon have their devices loaded to the brim with excellent home automation functions, games, music services, and so much more. Unfortunately for Apple, they are only supporting Apple Music and not focusing on home automation. Apple may decide to add more services in the future, but until then it’s not looking good. If this means they are trying to take on the audio side of things, it will be facing off against the giant in room, Sonos, who’s had the wireless home audio market nailed down for some time now. But at Apple’s high price point, with fewer features than Alexa, and possibly offering no better audio quality than Sonos, Apple doesn’t bring much to table at this point in time.

If you really love Apple (I admit, I love my iPhone and iPad) and Apple Music, and really want to drop $350, then the HomePod might be right for you. With Amazon, Google, and Sonos selling at lower price points and offering more features, while already controlling the market and doing almost everything right, I believe it’s quite possible that the Apple HomePod will be an embarrassing flop for Apple at the end of the year.

Apple HomePod Keynote Announcement

  • Andreas Bartels

    Well, most listeners who actually had direct access to Sonos Play:3 AND Apple HomePod reported that the HomePod had better music quality than Sonos (and better than Amazon Echo). (see e.g.http://www.techradar.com/reviews/apple-homepod). Together with Apple’s new Airplay 2 that allows multiroom control over multiple Airplay 2 capable devices (like the HomePod or many other speakers to come) it looks more like bad future for Sonos whose Play:3 costs more and sounds less good than Apple’s HomePod.

  • Cynthia Johnson-St Denis

    That’s interesting to hear that some reviewers find the Homepod to
    sound better than a Play3, however the Play3 is in actually the cheaper
    option, the Play 3 is $299 while the Apple Homepod has current MSRP of
    $349 and Sonos already has a massive lead with their app and a full
    ecosystem of supporting products for full home audio. So it does sound
    like good news for Apple if the Homepod does in fact sound a bit better
    than the Play3, but until we see what else Apple has up their sleeve, we
    just don’t know how it will sell compared to Sonos. As for Alexa,
    feature wise, it looks like it’s going to be a no contest fight here if
    Siri is only going to be useful for finding music, sure the Homepod will
    sound better, but that will have little affect on Alexa sales because
    of overwhelming amount of features and the low price tag. – Indiana Lang

  • Jay Haider

    I think the big draw here compared to Google and Amazon is respect for privacy. Those two have a business model of subsidizing hardware costs so they can mine data for gold. Apple makes money on its hardware.

  • AppleByter

    That is rather naively optimistic. Apple is going to be quite happy mining your data, and currently does so with everything it collects through the iABC eco-system.