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Dave

Apple HomePod vs. Amazon Echo vs. Google Home

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Apple showed off the HomePod yesterday and I know it's early to compare these things but there are a few key points that we can look at in comparison to the other vendors.  I would like to do this without bashing X vs. Y as I think Apple entering this market is key. Bring your facts.

They are obviously playing to their strengths first. Music.  They announced that they have 27 million Apple Music subscribers.  That is a very large number and they are also entering the market in typical Apple style.  Make a good product (as in sound) and compete where they feel they are stronger. Looking at you Sonos.  The Apple Home Pod will debut at the end of the year for $350.

It will also have Siri and touch controls on the top of it.  I know, siri is a huge "hit and miss" product.  I don't feel it performs as well as Google or Echo but it is improving.  It also does home kit integration like turning on lights, etc.  Basic stuff.

Where I think it will shine is when you couple it with another unit in the same room.  They are supposed to recognize each other and balance the sound in the room. Equally impressive is multiple rooms.  You can now sync audio on multiple units, in multiple rooms.  Amazon Echo is now officially behind as Google Home will do this as well.

The size caught me off guard.  It looks monstrous in photos but it's actually only 6.8" tall and 5.6" wide. 

Earlier I said lets play fair but here is where I give you my opinions on the market and it's not favorable for all.

Apple - Mostly discussed already but they will enter the market and the sheeples will drop their Echos in mass and go to Apple.  They will complain that it doesn't have "feature x" or feature y" but then go get a second one for another room and be happy in doing so.  Prepare for a gluttony of used Echo tubes on the market come December.

Sonos - There will be huge debates on sound. Right? If you have invested all that money in Sonos you are probably going to defend that stance! These debates will rage. Sonos can win this one but I'm curious if they take new paths or just try to be the best speaker system and continue to partner with all the voice operated devices. That's a strong position. Output great sound and talk to siri, echo, AND google.

Google Home - Is Google going to stay in this game? Can they overcome the "we are creepy with your data" stigma?  I'm pretty sure if I didn't already have a boat load of Echo's I would be a Google Home customer especially with calling and multiroom audio.  Everybody will have these features by end of year though.  They better!

Amazon - First in Wins?  Echo Show better sound real good Amazon!  In one of my recent #RESET podcasts I predicted that the sound would be amazing or at least 10x better than "Echo in a tube."  It has to be since they designed the base the way they did.  The screen is a differentiator.  I think it is going to be a big deal.  I have one on order and we will find out on Jun 28th.

Microsoft - Hey Cortana.  Best name in the business in my opinion but I'm a huge Halo fan.  I do fear that missing mobile has once again reared its ugly head in Redmond.  I don't know if this tube can catch up or better yet, even be relevant in this market. It's so freaking behind and their Harman Kardon partner literally copied the Echo Tube design.  Microsoft got to the puck, but as they did it's been smashed far beyond their reach but Microsoft fans will continue to tell you they are "skating to the puck!" 

I do think Microsoft has a few feathers in its cap though. Skype and Surface.  If they can get the Home Hub, Cortana, and Skype, into a design that mimics the Echo Show, and sounds like a Sonos they can compete.  It has to be a device.  You can't expect anyone but us geeks to design kitchen PC's. That is not mass market.  Panos, you need a day one home run in this category.  Surface Home anybody?

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Personally I think its still Amazon's to lose.  Everybody is just now catching up to where amazon was with the original echo and amazon has moved beyond that.  Of course much of this will be reliant upon the screen being useful for 3rd party skills (I think it will).  A few examples, for playing games like jeopardy or recipes.  Being able to have content displayed visually and not solely rely on voice input will be a game changer.  I think you will see the "quality" of skills increase dramatically.  And they are still the defacto standard in home automation, when people announce integrations its almost always echo first.

I do think apple is smart to not try and directly compete with Echo/Home/Cortana.  They are very much going after sonos and it fits with their style.  They would prefer to have the higher margin product and not worry about getting huge numbers of installs.  It just so happened they found a diamond with the iphone but that is not their mo typically.

 

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