Amazon Continues to Dominate U.S. Smart Speaker Market

I7guy

macrumors Core
Nov 30, 2013
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Gotta be in it to win it
It’s not good enough for me. I’m an audiophile. AV receiver with 7.2.1 setup. Why would I want a HomePod? (That was rhetorical & I never said ultra-expensive. Higher end.)
Any decent surround system would sound much better. Yes, it would cost more, but, a HomePod wouldn’t compare.
Obviously, people have bought them. I’m sure they sound great...for what they are. But, it costs a lot more than most people want to pay...for what they are. A smart speaker. That’s it.
Other Apple devices aren’t anything like this.
Right. This is a thread about dominance of amazon (low-end) speakers. I’m not interested in an echo dot, tried it. This obviously isn’t going to compare to a premium surround sound setup, but it fills rooms very nicely with sound that don’t have a premium setup. These HomePods aren’t for everybody and YMMV.
 
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PC_tech

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Jan 17, 2019
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IF this had been Apple that was dominating this smart speaker market, you can bet 500% that the European Commission and the FTC would have numerous antitrust lawsuits to shake down Apple by now.

But because it's Amazon (instead of Apple).... they will get away with it.
Or not 🙄
 

PickUrPoison

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Sep 12, 2017
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Surprise: people like cheap products. And 99% of people don’t give a crap about sound quality as well, so there’s your differentiation gone.
Actually the differentiation is still there, it just has a smaller addressable market.

Apple doesn’t even attempt to compete with $30 smart mics, just as they don’t have any interest in competing with $100 cellphones or $15 fitness bands. They’re perfectly happy to cede those markets to others.
 
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Braderunner

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A higher end setup that can be had for $350 or less?
Talking about audio quality. Audio...phile.
Dont think you saw my original comment. If so...o_O
- - Post merged: - -

Right. This is a thread about dominance of amazon (low-end) speakers. I’m not interested in an echo dot, tried it. This obviously isn’t going to compare to a premium surround sound setup, but it fills rooms very nicely with sound. They may not be for everybody.
Exactly. They are for too few.
 
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DevNull0

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Jan 6, 2015
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Apple wanted to make a great sounding, voice activated speaker. That’s what they did. HomePod has about as much in common with a cheap dot as the Apple Watch does with a $15 fitness band.
The only things I care about in a speaker setup are sound quality and being able to play sound from the devices I want to. For me, that's my iPhone, my MBP, my TV, my XBOne, and my gaming PC.

So from my point of view, HomePod is exactly equality to the Amazon Dot and Google Home Mini -- an overly crippled smart speaker assistant that will not play the audio I want it to play. In the overall landscape of modern audio gear in 2020, HomePod is directly comparable to the other smart speakers; that's the market Apple chose.

I spent somewhat more than a pair of HomePods, but I have a system that will play everything I need; the 7.2 surround blows all the smart speakers out of the market and definitely puts the HomePod in the same league as Amazon and Google. As an added perk, my dual zone receiver also drives the ceiling speakers throughout my home, so off one receiver I can have the TV playing a movie in 7.2 surround and have music playing throughout the rest of the house. And the receiver was $300 -- for what you get, HomePod is so over priced, it's a bad joke.

At $99 I could probably find a use for HomePod **if** it had an aux input jack. As it is, it's a paperweight as far as I'm concerned.
 
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Hmac

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Why would Apple be interested in selling crappy sounding smart mics at a loss? What’s the purpose? How would that further their strategic goals?

I get why it works for Amazon and google. Amazon wants to sell you stuff, google wants to sell your info. Good for them, fine for whoever wants it but I’m not interested in either.

Apple wanted to make a great sounding, voice activated speaker. That’s what they did. HomePod has about as much in common with a cheap dot as the Apple Watch does with a $15 fitness band.

I wish they’d make a higher end version, but I personally don’t have any interest in a worse sounding device. Once you take away it’s main feature—great sound—what are you left with?
Exactly. HomePod is great for those who want a voice activated speaker, lousy for those who would rather have an intelligent assistant that can play music
 

sinsin07

macrumors 68040
Mar 28, 2009
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Ever ask yourself why they want to sell it to you so cheaply?
No. The devices don't concern me.
I don't own.
However to address the question: The person who buys it becomes the product.
Surprised you didn't know that.
Hope that answer's your attempt.
 
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theluggage

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Jul 29, 2011
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Apple doesn’t even attempt to compete with $30 smart mics, just as they don’t have any interest in competing with $100 cellphones or $15 fitness bands. They’re perfectly happy to cede those markets to others.
True, but in the case of "smart speakers" it's more than that: the main "smart speaker" competitors are also cash registers for Amazon and data collectors for Google. Only Amazon's execs could tell you if echos are literally "loss leaders" but they're clearly mostly interested in persuading people to do all of their shopping via Alexa than charging huge mark-ups on Echos. A reasonable simplification might be "Amazon/Google make hardware to sell services - Apple make services to sell hardware". Homepod might sell some Apple music subscriptions or iTunes purchases, but most of the target market are already bought into Apple's ecosystem and probably have that anyway.

If Apple has a problem with HomePod it's that they're even being seen as a competitor to Echo (as evidenced by the fact that this thread even exists) rather than "audiophile" (in the marketing sense) wireless speakers from the likes of Bose, Naim, Bowers & Wilkins - compared to which the HomePod isn't particularly expensive (and the audio quality of these is pretty much in the imagination of the reviewer - No True Scotsman would accept any compact wireless speaker that relied on DSPs and beam-forming trickery as Hi Fi*).

The other problem is common to virtually all new Apple products: buy completely into our ecosystem or go away. If the fickle public ever turns away from iPhone, everything else fails with it.


* I think I'm going to start a business buying the cheapest generic air-fresheners that China can sell and selling them as Pro Technology Audiophile Wireless optimisers - releases patented Ion Tech nano molecules which reverse the polarity of the ion flow in your air and reduce the distabluation and arronization of WiFi and BlueTooth signals, thus improving the flavour and sustainability of the sound from your wireless speakers and completely eliminating audio apaxiscity and cromulation. $49.99 for the basic DNLA-compatable model for Android devices, $79.99 for lemon zest Airplay2 support. Lasts forever! wireless optimisation effect will remain the same long after the aroma has faded!
 
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MarkAtl

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Jul 9, 2019
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I did a count of the echos in my (admittedly large) home. I have 10.

As previously mentioned, they are great intercom systems - so my kids have dots in their bedrooms. The guest room has an echo spot which used to be in my bedroom before I replaced it with a show 5. The kitchen has the first generation show, the basement gym has the original first gen echo, and so on. As I upgrade a device I move an old one elsewhere.

I also have Sonos throughout the home, so I don’t listen to music on the echos. Don’t think I ever have.

What Amazon got right was the automation and integration features. I can turn on and off lights, control Sonos, watch cameras live, turn on and off my alarm, etc. I don’t know if Apple has the same for HomePod but they were late to the party.

At the same time I’ll never put one in my car and I look at each new device based upon its own merits. I also don’t order anything on Amazon via the echos.
 

KanosWRX

macrumors 6502
Jul 14, 2008
333
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I am really surprised by how many people still buy Alexa junk, its constantly shown to be one of the worst smart speakers when it comes to AI, Google being far out ahead and Apple being better in most categories, it has poor integration into other devices, i.e. no Car Play or Android Auto like support in cars, let alone phones. I guess consumers aren't the brightest when it comes to this stuff and it was first to market so they don't know better. But I do wonder how many they have sold that are just sitting in a closet somewhere because Amazon pretty much gives them away at Christmas time, can't search for anything on Amazon anymore without first getting an add for an echo dot or something.
 

I7guy

macrumors Core
Nov 30, 2013
21,330
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Gotta be in it to win it
...If Apple has a problem with HomePod it's that they're even being seen as a competitor to Echo (as evidenced by the fact that this thread even exists) rather than "audiophile" (in the marketing sense) wireless speakers from the likes of Bose, Naim, Bowers & Wilkins - compared to which the HomePod isn't particularly expensive (and the audio quality of these is pretty much in the imagination of the reviewer - No True Scotsman would accept any compact wireless speaker that relied on DSPs and beam-forming trickery as Hi Fi......
In that vein of who is competition to who, a Toyota Camry could be seen as competition to a 750i. It all depends on how one wants to slant the criteria.
- - Post merged: - -

Well at least discussed. 😁
Ok. Discussed and addressed.😎
 
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Someyoungguy

macrumors 6502
Oct 28, 2012
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Why would Apple be interested in selling crappy sounding smart mics at a loss? What’s the purpose? How would that further their strategic goals?

I get why it works for Amazon and google. Amazon wants to sell you stuff, google wants to sell your info. Good for them, fine for whoever wants it but I’m not interested in either.

Apple wanted to make a great sounding, voice activated speaker. That’s what they did. HomePod has about as much in common with a cheap dot as the Apple Watch does with a $15 fitness band.

I wish they’d make a higher end version, but I personally don’t have any interest in a worse sounding device. Once you take away it’s main feature—great sound—what are you left with?
I see a lot of people comparing this to what we had between the Apple Watch and FitBit, but considering how bad Siri is and how limited the Homepod's connectivity and source material are, the analogy fails. If the FitBit were actually better than the Apple Watch, with better accuracy and more applications and more ways to be useful, but the Apple Watch's advantage had been only a slightly better display at 3X the price, then you'd have your parallel. And we'd all be wearing FitBits.
 
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cardfan

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Mar 23, 2012
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Have the first Alexa smart speaker they made because it was half price from day one. None since then. The integration with other things is the prize. Not music. Alexa turn off tv. Cheap smart plugs that sort of thing.

Have two homepods in my office. Music and speakers for iMac.

Have a google home whatever they call it now in kitchen. Plays YouTube and YouTube tv which imo define what you’d get a google speaker w/screen for. Best for queries. Don’t care about music on this.

My least favorite of the 3? HomePod. When it works it’s fine. But so many times it just didn’t. Sign in to Apple ID. Oh sorry cant. Or Siri can’t help just because. Or an update screwed up. HomeKit sucks. Home app sucks. Integration with anything is awful. It’s basically an Apple Music speaker that sounds decent when it works.
 

nylonsteel

macrumors 6502a
Nov 5, 2010
831
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aapl could have been #1 in this arena - but dropped the ball to amazon better implementation
 

Blakjack

macrumors 68000
Jun 23, 2009
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Affordability if the HomePod is not the issue. Apple can make a cheaper version all they want. But until Siri is smarter, the HomePod is just a speaker, not a smart speaker. SONOS is hands down the best option for all purpose speakers right. They have great sound, adaptable with “Alexa” and “Hey Google”, and works with both Apple Music and Spotify.
 
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ds2000

macrumors 6502
May 24, 2012
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We have apple laptops, phones, watches and alexa as a smart speaker / hub / automation tool. Siri is garbage.
 

smaffei

macrumors 6502
Jun 5, 2003
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Bought a Sonos Beam for $370 and two Satellite speakers for $260. For about as much as 2 homepods. I get a wireless surround system that supports Alexa / Google (and a subwoofer if I wish). It sounds great and does everything I want. Why Apple?
 

I7guy

macrumors Core
Nov 30, 2013
21,330
9,294
Gotta be in it to win it
Affordability if the HomePod is not the issue. Apple can make a cheaper version all they want. But until Siri is smarter, the HomePod is just a speaker, not a smart speaker. SONOS is hands down the best option for all purpose speakers right. They have great sound, adaptable with “Alexa” and “Hey Google”, and works with both Apple Music and Spotify.
That is if one wants an “all purpose” speaker that works with Alexa and google. I don’t use either. So for me, hands down, the HomePod was a logical choice.