Why Apple HomePod May Be a Strong Amazon Echo Competitor
Apple rumors didnât stop coming this week, but they all took second place to HomePod, the companyâs upcoming smart speaker.
Apple on Friday started accepting pre-orders on its HomePod, two weeks before they start shipping on Feb. 9. And as expected, industry watchers are now questioning whether the new device can compete with the market leader, Amazonâs Echo.
Like the Echo, Appleâs HomePod comes with the ability to stream music. HomePod is controlled by Appleâs virtual personal assistant Siri, a competitor to the Echoâs Alexa. Armed with Siri, users will be able to add events to their calendars, control smart home devices like thermostats and light bulbs, and hear text messages sent to their connected iPhones. But at $349, the HomePod is expensiveâ"especially considering that the Echo costs $100.
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But this week wasnât only about HomePod. So read on for the biggest news and rumors from this week in Apple news:
This is Fortuneâs latest weekly roundup of the biggest Apple news. Hereâs last weekâs roundup.
- Apple this week announced that its HomePod would go on sale on Feb. 9. The company also opened pre-orders Friday morning. The HomePod will cost $349 and will be available in both gray and white. If youâre not a fan of Appleâs stores, you can also pre-order the smart speaker at Best Buy.
- Apple CEO Tim Cook this week made the sales pitch for HomePod by saying it would offer the best sound of any other smart speaker. He also touted its integration with Appleâ s software, including Apple Music streaming, Siri virtual personal assistant, and messaging app Messages.
- There appears to be some debate over whether the iPhone Xâs sales are strong. Researcher Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) said that iPhone X accounted for 20% of all U.S. iPhone sales in the fourth quarter. That was enough for the iPhone X to top the iPhone 8 Plus, which accounted for 17% of total iPhone sales, but the $1,000 smartphone lagged the iPhone 8âs 24% market share. Although thatâs not the best of news for Apple, CIRP said that the iPhone X was released in November and therefore didnât benefit from October sales like the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus did.
- The CIRP study was followed this week by a report from research firm Canalys, which said that Apple sold 29 million iPhone Xs in the fourth quarter, including 7 million in the U.S. That was enough to top the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, according to Canalys. Still, the researcher said that the iPhone has performed âslightly below industry expectations.â
- Apple in December acquired music-discovery service Shazam for a reported $400 million. And this week, DN Capital analyst Mark Mulligan said that itâs possible the Shazam buy will net Apple up to 7.5 million new subscribers to Apple Music. Mulligan said Shazam has 150 million monthly active users and that he believes up to 5% of them who arenât Apple Music subscribers will now sign up for the streaming-music service. He didnât say when he expects those users to sign up.
- Apple will release a software update that will let users disable a function that slows down older iPhones when their batteries start to malfunction. Apple had previously released software that would slow down an iPhone when its battery was low or not working properly. The feature ensured the iPhone wouldnât randomly shut down. After facing widespre ad criticism, Apple will allow users to disable the feature, but it suggested that they donât actually turn it off.
One more thingâ¦Appleâs hiring of product designers has risen sharply since October. Of course, Apple isnât saying why, but that hasnât stopped the speculation from running rampant.Source: Google News US Technology | Netizen 24 United States