Video: Will Apple’s HomePod make it in a crowded smart speaker market?
The sudden drumbeat was experienced all over the world.
It had a sonorous — but not Sonos — tone that caused an involuntary shudder in the extremities of those who thought it Earth-shattering. Apple is going to release a cheaper, Beats-branded HomePod, said the sound signals of a rumor from Chinese site Sina.
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Did this mean, the worriers and Apple-loathers whined, that Apple was conceding its own HomePod had failed?
When was the last time Cupertino conceded anything?
Did this mean that there would suddenly be a HomePod that would look a touch more garish and, um, unapologetically plastic and would soon be in the mansions of many a famous NBA player?
Let’s try and persuade ourselves that the rumor contains some sort of truth.
It could — conceivably, I suppose — signify that Apple would like to have a competitor to the Amazon Echo. And, well, why not have one that looks a touch cooler and still has some sort of musical credentials, as the HomePod allegedly does?
Goodness, almost every object known to man looks cooler than the Amazon Echo. It’s like someone took a garbage can, filled it in, and incarcerated Alexa inside.
At heart, though, what does Beats mean to Apple anymore?
Cupertino surely stated its branding intentions early and clearly. When it started its music streaming service, Jimmy Iovine and his Beats acolytes wanted it to be called Beats Music.
Apple didn’t. Apple won.
Since then, the Beats brand has been decidedly secondary in Apple’s thinking.
If Apple suddenly wanted to release a “HomePod” with Beats branding, it would surely look absolutely nothing like the HomePod.
Apple wouldn’t dream of tarnishing something it’s set up as an aficionado’s speaker by making a cheaper copy and adorning it with the Beats logo.
Have you noticed there’s no cheaper AirPods called AirBeats?
More likely is that this supposed BeatsPod would merely be a new speaker line. Could it — maybe, just maybe — have a dollop of real Siri inside? Somehow, I doubt it.
Not that Siri is much of an addition. With my HomePod, she can understand at best 40 percent of what I say.
“Hey, Siri. Play Pierre’s new album.”
“Got it. Playing ‘I’ll Take You There’ by the Staple Singers.”
Read also: Apple HomePod: Late and pricey
But, wait a minute, just how many speakers are still sold under the Beats brand name? Well, there’s the Pill (available in white, black, and Product Red). And that’s it. The Pill was last updated in 2015.
Does this mean there might be a deep-seated craving for a BeatsPod? Or, um, a PillPod?
Then again, a Pill officially costs $179.95, and this rumor said the new BeatsPod/PillPod will be $199. Is Siri worth as much as $19.05?
No, I can’t get there from here. At best, there might be some new Beats speakers.
I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it.
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Competition is heating up though, with Amazon’s share falling from 82 percent a year ago to 43 percent.
Apple’s first foray into smart speaker market has the sound and looks, but does it have the smarts?