News Apple HomePod and Apple TV 4K unit next to each other

Published on January 27th, 2018 | by Brad Gibson

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Opinion: Apple’s 48 hours of ignorance

It’s been an interesting 48 hours in the life of Apple TV and HomePod. Not for what the tech giant Apple did or said, but for what it didn’t.

For weeks now, Apple has had the opportunity to better hone its message to consumers as to why their smart speaker, HomePod, would be a better solution than the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

They also had the opportunity to better explain how HomePod would work with various Apple products including Apple TV, which would have been a win-win for the company as well as owners who’ve been wondering, “what makes my Apple TV better than the others?”

Instead, Apple sat on their hands for five-plus months since its September 2017 announcement doing nothing – absolutely nothing – to prove to customers why HomePod is different and cutting edge.

I take that back. They did something. They announced in mid-November HomePod would be delayed until 2018.

So you’d think they would have used that opportunity to wet our appetites. Make us yearn. Release some more details on its use, shows us some videos, give us some examples of its additional Siri capabilities, even give us a hint of how it will work with Apple TV once AirPlay 2 is released.

Instead, what we got was nothing. Not a peep except the words, “We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod…but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers.”

This is when Apple showed us that it moves more like a huge ship turning in the ocean instead of an agile one turning on a dime.

It did nothing to build momentum for HomePod and make us salivate to buy it. While industry watchers by the thousands were talking about the Amazon Echo and Google Home at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Apple did little to evangelize its answer to an intelligent speaker.

I’m not the only person scratching their head over Apple’s HomePod strategy. Check out what New York Times technology columnist Farad Manjoo wrote Friday…

“A new Apple device is usually a Big Deal event, one of those campaigns that Apple rolls out with the precision of a military conquest. But nobody heard anything more about the HomePod until late November when Apple announced that the timing had slipped and that HomePod wouldn’t come until after the holidays.

“It was a crucial miss — the Echo seems to have had a gangbusters holiday, with Amazon expanding its head start in the category by probably tens of millions of devices. In a widely passed-around post, the venture capitalist M.G. Siegler wondered whether Amazon was so far ahead that HomePod was essentially dead on arrival.

“It’s still an odd announcement; Apple provided only a short demo of the device in June, so people brave enough to order will be going in blind. But you count Apple out in the hardware business at your peril. It will be fun to see what happens here.”

I’m not sure I’d call it “peril”, but more at their jeopardy because Apple has gotten so big, so full of BS, that it can’t see anything they do as wrong.

So instead in a stretch of 48 hours they announce the HomePod can be ordered January 26th, release iOS and tvOS 11.3 the day before HomePod ordering begins, give few clues about its new AirPlay 2 features that will work with the HomePod – which we have deduced that they clearly will add in a few months the capability to play audio from streaming videos through Apple TV – then, release a preview update of iOS 11.3, but say nothing about the same capabilities of tvOS 11.3.

And that, my friends, is marketing ‘Apple style’.

The future features of HomePod are not top secret. Developers already know what the capabilities will be of AirPlay 2 so it’s not like Apple couldn’t have revealed some bits and pieces. It would have excited potential customers to preorder the HomePod. It would have maybe even enticed Apple TV users to buy it now, and it might have impressed consumers that its $349 price tag was worth it.

Apple did none of this because their Apple. They’re right about everything, or so they think. Instead, they have blown the opportunity to entice Apple TV users, many of whom would be interested in HomePod if Apple simply sold them on its features. Not tomorrow. Not next month. Now.

Apple will lead you to believe that if they make it, they will come (and buy it). But probably more than any product of late, many experts in the consumer electronics space are not anywhere near sure Apple will succeed with the HomePod, even with those who can and will afford its lofty price. They believe Apple is too late to the intelligent speaker market and its lack of promotion and simple explanation of its use and functionality will be its mistake.

At BESTAppleTV, we are also not sure of its success as an Apple TV addition. And because Apple has done literally nothing in explaining how it works with Apple TV to a wider audience, we have great doubts this will be a winner.

Time will tell, but the last 48 hours are an extremely poor example of how a company promotes a new product and further evidence why Apple is far behind in the streaming media player market.

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About the Author

Brad is co-founder and editor-in-chief of BESTAppleTV.com. He has been a technology reporter since the late 1980s having previously worked for MacUser, MacFormat, and iCreate magazines, as well as MacNN.com, MacObserver.com, MacCentral.com, MacMinute.com, and Macworld.com. He hosted and produced the MacFormat This Week podcast for three years. He was also a reporter, editor, and producer for the Associated Press and United Press International.



One Response to Opinion: Apple’s 48 hours of ignorance

  1. Milad says:

    Remember when Apple was laughing at Sony for not making something like the iPod? Because they already had the Walkman and music rights via Sony Music Entertainment, but couldn’t put those two together? Well, now Apple is the Sony.

    They already had an assistant with Siri, they had a widely used ecosystem and already made electronics. Yet it was Amazon, who didn’t have any of those (at least not widely used), who made a smart speaker. Then Apple had a shot at getting even and they blew it. First of all, delaying until right after the holidays is wrong in any market. I mean, for a company that already makes computers, smartphones, streamers, tablets, smartwatches, and software (from a desktop and mobile OS to professional audio and video editing), how hard can it be to make a smart speaker? Second of all, Siri is the only assistant that speaks so many different languages. Even if Amazon had the biggest share in most English speaking countries, Apple could’ve been the biggest in all those other countries and together with their ecosystem, swung the pendulum in their own direction.

    Apple needs to get off their high horse, they have grown accustomed to success and now assume everything they make turns into differently thinking gold. They should realize people are not willing to pay any price and have great, cheap alternatives. Just think of the ridiculous prices Macs have now. The reason they got away, and are getting away with the high price of iPhones, is because they are subsidized. I love Apple (even more the Apple TV, of course) and honestly hope they haven’t shown their true colours and are going to improve, charge more reasonable prices and win back the respect of the customers who hold this company so dear.

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