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.
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
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.
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.
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.