Manufacturer to Build Apple Smart Speakers to Take on Amazon Echo
The connected speaker will be Apple’s first AI-based smart home device powered by Siri and is expected to take on Amazon’s smart home assistant Echo, said the report, citing Kuo Ming-chi, an analyst at Taiwan-based KGI Securities.
This analysis comes just days after credible rumors started circulating that the Apple smart speaker was imminent and news that recent Apple patent applications referenced a smart speaker device indirectly.
More Expensive than Amazon Echo or Google Home
The report also suggests that the new Apple device will be priced higher than the $139 Google Home and $179 Amazon Echo. Given that Apple AirPods bluetooth ear buds cost $159, well above competing products, it is not surprising that the new smart speaker will be even more expense. Apple Insider reports that:
Inventec currently produces Apple’s AirPods, and has been involved in the Apple product pipeline in some fashion since the iPod days…The Siri speaker will reportedly feature one woofer and seven tweeters for rich sound. It’s also believed that it will be powered by a custom ARM processor equal in power to at least the A8 CPU on the iPhone 6 or newer, and have the W1 Bluetooth chip as well.
These product specs combined with the Apple and Beats brands can help justify the added expense of what appears to be a more powerful table top voice assistant device than those currently offered by Amazon and Google. What remains to be seen is what the device will be able to do. There is Apple HomeKit for smart home automation and Siri’s search capabilities, but there is no indication that Apple has courted independent developers to build voice applications for the platform to date. A big selling point that Amazon stresses about the Echo is the availability of over 10,000 Alexa skills that add value to the consumer experience. Apple has proven that its customers will pay more for comparable devices than competitors but that assumes the company will have a comparable offering.
Apple to Sell 12 Million Devices in First Year?
The KGI Securities Analyst Kuo Ming-chi also predicted that Apple could ship 12 million units in the year after launch. That will likely depend on the product features and how many languages are released at the initial launch. However, that would put Apple well ahead of Amazon’s first year sales and would likely be more than the anticipated shipments for Google Home.
Studies of Amazon Echo owners by both GfK and Experian confirm that music listening is one of the most popular uses of the product. Executives at Amazon claim that the Amazon Music Unlimited is the fastest growing subscription music streaming service today. Not long ago, Apple Music held that distinction before it climbed to number two behind Spotify in terms of total global subscribers.
This About Both Music and Siri
Music has been a core element of Apple’s strategy since the iPod. Before the company launched Apple Music it bought Beats, the eponymous headphone maker, for $3.2 billion. You can understand how important it is for Apple to generate a large smart speaker consumer footprint quickly to maintain its position in music and not just voice assistants. The company showed it could scale quickly in established markets when Apple Music went to number two globally in less than a year from what was essentially a standing start. It will be fascinating to see if the Cupertino team can do it again with smart speakers and provide a new platform for Siri to win over consumers.