2 May 20179to5Mac:
KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo has published an industry report today claiming that Apple will likely announce a Siri Speaker product (branding unknown, Kuo calls it ‘Apple’s first home AI product’) at WWDC in June. The device will compete with the Amazon Echo and go on sale in the second half of the year.
Kuo says Apple’s product will feature ‘excellent’ sound with seven tweeters and a subwoofer, and will be positioned as a more premium product than the Echo … with a higher price tag to match.
Typically, the best Apple products are devices that focus on doing a few things really well. With the Siri Speaker, or whatever it ends up being called, I believe you have to buck that trend and create something that does as much as possible in one.
Consumers don’t want to have a myriad of different smart boxes per room. For my personal devices, it makes sense to lug a laptop in my bag and carry a smartphone in my pocket and have a watch on my wrist. One form factor cannot fulfil all mobile computing needs.
The same doesn’t apply for a smart room appliance. I want to have as few animate cylinders dotted around my living room and my kitchen. I don’t have the space or plug sockets to dedicate to loads of them. Aesthetically, a generic box — even one designed by Apple — is unlikely to match the decor. In an ideal world, you’d have zero of them assuming there was an alternate way to reap the benefits.
Jack-of-all trades functionality certainly has its downsides, conglomerating so many disparate loosely-connected features into one device will complicate the marketing message. The need to pack in more technology also raises the entry price, alienating a section of the market that might not want to take advantage of every feature the hypothetical ‘speaker’ provides. Nevertheless, I believe an all-in-one product is ultimately most desirable.
Mesh WiFi, Siri voice commands, wireless music, HomeKit temperature and humidity sensors, motion sensor, indoor cameras, hands-free phone calls. If you are going to have one of these boxes in a room, it might as well do everything.
I’m not saying that Apple will deliver what I’m describing. I doubt they will. What KGI details is a device focused on Siri and really good wireless speakers for music and podcast playback. I wish they would meld mesh wireless networking into that as well; it would explain the abandoned state of AirPort hardware at least.
I’m also not saying that if it doesn’t solve every conceivable smart home problem that it will be a failure. As ‘just’ a wireless speaker with voice control, I’ll likely buy at least one. The Amazon Echo has shown demand with an inferior product still. Nevertheless, there is potential for a product with much wider scope.