Amazon Echo vs Apple's HomePod: Who Wins?
What's the Apple HomePod?
The Apple HomePod is an upcoming Siri-based speaker that promises to deliver amazing audio, spatial recognition, and a delicate mesh design.
The gadget is Apple's answer to Amazon's line of Echo speakers and other competitors like the Google Home.
At first glance, some of the hardware features inside the HomePod will include seven tweeters, a company designed 4-inch woofer, and six microphones targeted to pick up voice commands.
Additional Apple HomePod perks include:
- Mesh fitted for the 6.8" tall Mac Pro inspired speaker
- An LED display on the top showcasing touch controls
- A8 chip to power the device (used in iPhone 6)
- Direct link with Apple Music
- Control of all HomeKit devices
- "Hey Siri" function to answer questions/commands
With so many perks and features, the Apple HomePod does sound quite impressive and a lot of Apple fans may jump on board.
Unfortunately most consumers will likely stay away from its $349 price tag when there are numerous, inexpensive smart speakers available.
In fact Amazon's line of affordable AI speakers is set to control 70 percent of the market in 2017. But there are other reasons why the Amazon Echo will be better than the HomePod and they may surprise you.
The Apple HomePod Is Expensive
The most popular smart speaker right now is the $50 Echo Dot that's frequently on sale for even less because people can actually afford it.
At $349 Apple will struggle to compete against similar devices unless they bring more to the table. Sadly being a last option rarely works out in the tech world, and they're at risk of getting left behind.
The HomePod is also likely to place into the specialized niche category since most people can't afford such an expensive product despite Apple's cache and notoriety.
Their smart speaker experiment should fall in-line with their Apple Watch devices, which may be good for the company but not compelling enough for the average buyer.
At best Apple will be a distant third in the smart speaker category with Google and Amazon fully controlling the market.
Amazon Echo 2nd Generation
Amazon has finally launched the 2nd generation Echo to hold down competitors like Apple.
The new Echo has greater sound quality, much better listening ability, an aux port, and customizable designs like the Google Home.
With other Alexa enabled speakers like the Sonos One hitting the market, it only makes sense for Amazon to improve on their own speaker.
The main selling point will be the lower price.
Amazon didn't have to upgrade their original Echo but with so many smart speakers on the horizon, it doesn't hurt to transform their once premium item.
The set of new features in the Amazon Echo 2 include:
- Smaller, sleeker design with rounded edges
- Cloth-like shell vs. the original's plastic exterior
- Additional tweeters for better sound quality
- Advanced far-field microphone software/hardware
- Much lower $99.99 cost vs. $179.99 for original
Amazon's goal for the new Echo was to make it look great, sound better, and still be affordable for the standard customer.
Those improvements along with a near monopoly of the smart speaker market are enough to push the Apple HomePod to the side.
Apple's Main Focus Is the iPhone
No matter how many products Apple comes up with (Apple TV, Apple Watch, etc.) they will always be known for the iPhone.
Since most of the company's profit comes from their smartphone collection, it makes sense that they'll use most of their resources on them instead of newer innovations.
Apple heavily focuses on their OS and subsequent ecosystem, which is excellent for iPhone users but not enough to bring new people in. Luckily for Apple they have a huge consumer audience that they profit from.
In fact the company is so profitable that they don't need to create a smart speaker. Their iPhone line-up alone is enough to make them the most profitable brand in the world.
So while the HomePod should be an impressive device at launch, there's a good chance it'll get sidelined like most of their "other categories" that aren't the iPhone.
The Google Home Mini
As if a new Echo wasn't enough, Google has launched their own version of the Echo Dot for only $49.
The smaller, cheaper Google Home is a way for the brand to capture a larger share of the market and like Amazon, hold-off any new competitor.
Ultimately it appears that the voice-controlled speaker establishment will be dominated by Google and Amazon akin to how Samsung and Apple control the smartphone competition.
Apple can't compete with Google and Amazon because they don't do cheap well.
Google also has a near monopoly of search-engines that they incorporate into their Home's software/Cloud, which may eventually overthrow Alexa and the Echo in total capital.
Which brings me to my last point...
Siri Is an Awful Voice Assistant
Alexa, Cortana, Google, and even Samsung's Bixby are all better than Siri.
Siri is so bad that even Apple decided to sideline their smart assistant when they designed the HomePod.
The main focus of a "smart "speaker is the AI inside them otherwise it's just another speaker.
It's been proven time and time again that Siri cannot handle basic queries like other assistants can, and there haven't been enough improvement to change that.
Siri has even been slammed by former Apple executives because of how underdeveloped she was, which is a shame since Siri was the first assistant that entered the mainstream.
All signs point to another lackluster assistant in an otherwise beautifully designed speaker that cannot compete with the likes of Google's growing intelligence or Alexa's vast skill-set.
Siri could've been what Bixby is trying to be, an assistant that integrates with the ecosystem/phone, but she even fails at that.
In a world where AI is rapidly taking over, this is one area where Apple fails to shine. It's also the reason why the Amazon Echo and the Google Home will both be better than the Apple HomePod.