Apple Announces HomePod Speaker to Rival Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home
Three years after Amazon launched the Echo and six months after Google launched its $109 Home, Apple today unveiled a Siri-powered smart speaker called the HomePod, the speaker is a gateway to other Apple products, and a showcase for Apple’s voice AI assistant, Siri.
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CEO Tim Cook announced the device as the day’s “one last thing.”
“We think we can do a lot,” Cook said, “to make the experience [of listening to music in your home] much better.”
Apple's supply chain is builidng a speaker that is 7 inches tall, covered in “acoustic” mesh, with a 4-inch woofer, along the bottom: 6 microphones and a beam-forming tweeter. It runs $349, which is far more expensive than competing products.
Like Amazon’s $179 Echo, Apple’s HomePod is not just for music. It can tell you the weather, read you news and sports scores, and perform many other tasks, all beginning with the command, “Hey Siri.”
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U.S. retail prices of selected voice-enabled and multiroom wireless speakers
Amazon Echo is powered by Alexa, while Google Home is powered by Google Assistant. (Last month, Microsoft announced the Invoke, a smart speaker powered by its Cortana voice assistant, set to go on sale in the fall.) Of course, you could also count the Sonos, the Beats Pill, and the Jawbone Jambox as home speakers that will have to compete with Apple HomePod now.
According to Bloomberg Technology, the market for internet-connected speakers and other smart home technology may be big enough to help Apple diversify.
Shipments of intelligent home speakers surged nearly 600 percent year-over-year to 4.2 million units in the fourth quarter, with Amazon taking about 88 percent share and Google 10 percent, according to consultant Strategy Analytics.
Spending on smart home related hardware, services and installation fees will reach $155 billion by 2022, up from almost $90 billion this year, with devices accounting for about half of that, the consulting firm also estimates.
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