Preorders have opened up for Apple’s HomePod smart speaker, more than a year behind the Google Home, and over Three years after Amazon launched their Echo smart speaker.
The HomePod comes with Siri built into the speaker, users can create reminders, set timers, play music through Apple Music, stream podcasts and send messages.
Apple needs to be in the smart speaker market because these devices are becoming a key gateway to subscription services like music, can connect with smart home gadgets, and facilitate other activities like shopping and playing games. A lot of that used to be done through the smartphone, with one in three smart speaker purchasers reporting they were spending less time on their smartphone. HomePod will help Apple sell Apple Music and also keep Siri, its digital assistant, relevant: the smart speaker won’t replace the smartphone, but it’s still a category where Apple needs to perform well.
Launching late into a new market seems like a strange business decision, but Apple have done this various times before, allowing their competitors to establish the market and make mistake and then come in with a premium product that fixes the problems that its competitors were unable to resolve.
Apple faces a tough battle to break into a market with established companies offering cheaper products. But if it can convince enough people that it can do a better job of protecting privacy than its rivals, then it could still capture the premium and privacy-conscious segment of the smart home market.