File photo: Tim Cook, CEO, speaks during Apple’s annual world wide developer conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, USA 5 June 2017. (REUTERS/Stephen Lam)
By the time the Apple HomePod made its official debut earlier, in 2018, the Amazon Echo was already more than three years with the homeowners. As such, it is difficult to blame people for comparing the two smart speakers, and yes, perhaps suggesting that the HomePod took a few clues from its older competitor. But it is not surprising that Apple CEO Tim Cook is not too pleased with the insinuation. In a recent interview with Fast Company, the board rejected claims that the HomePod is in any way a “me too” product.
“I wouldn’t say ‘follow’, the Cook told Fast Company of the comparisons between the HomePod and the Echo. “I wouldn’t use that word, because that means that we have to wait for someone to see what they were doing. That’s not actually what happens. What happens if you look under the blankets, which we probably can’t, let the people do is that we start projects years before they come. Might take you to one of our products: iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch — they were not the first, but they were the first modern one, right?”
It is certainly true that while Apple is not always the first on the market, it has the tendency to offer the product that is the standard in the market. And while the HomePod made its appearance much later than the Echo, the plans for the smart speaker began swirling around Apple about six years ago. As FastCo comments “a report suggested that the speaker started life as an internal project…[and] move by means of different designs, one of which is three metres high.”
Or Apple or Amazon had the concept in the first, the first reaction of the Apple smart speaker is a bit chilly, to say the least. Siri is much less suitable for the management of your smart home then Alexa, and while the speaker himself has been praised as top-notch, the skills outside of playing music are rather questionable. But Cooking seems to be perfectly fine with that, at least for the moment.
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“Great artists spend a lot of time thinking about every detail,” he said about the company can focus on the sound over just about everything. “If you get this little squeaky speaker, all that is gone! All of the art and craft of the music is gone. [HomePod] is the awareness that is important. A part of the fun in music is hearing the sound.”