“Apple is selling this as an audiophile product and it can’t compete with amps hooked up to full range floor standing speakers”
Duh! Apple is selling it as having great technology that can get the most out of a speaker that weighs 5.5 pounds. There are rumors that Apple thought about a 3 foot tall device, but obviously they figured out the market is larger for a 6.8 inch tall speaker with a 5.6 inch footprint. I should mention, I have a very tall Sony Bluetooth speaker and because of its size, it limits where I can put it.
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“Alexa kills Siri”
I am a fan of Echo products (the Dot was my top pick last year), but Alexa is no better than Siri and in many ways it is worse. Don’t take my word for it, watch this video of a side by side comparison from one of YouTube’s most popular tech reviewers:
"Alexa, ask House Band to play Blood on the Track by Bob Dylan"
I don't think that this skill will be better than using the HomePod to control Airplay 2 devices.
This is true, but it is the only "voice assistant" that works with Apple Music (currently that includes 30 million subscribers), Siri, and will have control over AirPlay 2 devices. Also, Google Play Music does not work with the Echo and Amazon Music does not work with Google Home.
Apple could add Spotify, and they may do that down the road, but right now they are using their devices to grow the Apple Music subscriber base. These music services are all very similar, so it makes sense for Apple to use their products as a way to sell the service.
“Casting is better than AirPlay”
Try opening up Apple Music or The Overcast podcast app (two prominent examples) on an iPhone and then try to Cast that audio stream to your Chromecast. Nope, you can’t. Now try to AirPlay it. Works like a charm.
The main shortfall to Casting is that it doesn’t work with every audio app like AirPlay on iOS. Obviously, if you don’t own an iPhone or iPad, AirPlay is less useful, but this is an Apple device that works best if you are in the Apple ecosystem.
Also, the HomePod will get Airplay 2 sending/receiving capabilities which is supposed to give it more features from iOS and more buffering on the network.
“It is overpriced”
The only way we know if it is priced to high is by waiting to see how well it sells. Apple has margins built in and prices can be adjusted if they aren’t selling. Apple typically does enough research that they know what people will pay before bringing a product to market. It is why they have the most profitable tech products in numerous categories.
Now if people are saying it isn’t worth $350 for them to buy it, that is their own issue. There are a lot of products I wouldn’t take for free, but that doesn’t mean they are priced wrong for their market. It just means I have no interest in those products. There are other products, like BMW M3 that I would consider buying if it was priced a lot lower. It doesn’t mean it is overpriced, it just means it costs more than I would be willing to pay.
"Not long if not now that Google and Amazon/Sonos will have this market sewed up."
I doubt it unless one of them adds Airplay 2 voice control features and Apple Music with voice control.
The market for any of these devices is still pretty small. I have three Dots and a Spot preordered (not to mention a newly added Google Home Mini) and I still have an interest in the HomePod for the two features I mentioned above. I have read that Amazon is estimated to have sold around 15 million Echoes. Small potatoes in a world with billions of people, and since many people that have them, may have more than one, the number of homes these are in is probably a fraction compared to the (estimated) number they have sold.
Not to mention homes like mine that will have devices from more than one company. It is like saying that someone has an iPhone 4, so they should have no interest in a Samsung Note 8. The products themselves are so different that having one (even if they are both in the smart phone category) doesn't rule out the future purchase of the other.
Of course, I don't have a crystal ball. However, I wouldn't bet against Apple. Just to put some perspective on their success, let's look at their current products:
- The most profitable smartphone
- The most profitable tablet
- The most profitable laptop
- The most profitable desktop
- The most profitable smartwatch
- The most profitable pair of wireless headphones
- The most profitable streaming TV box
The Apple Brand is popular and makes a lot of money. Of course, if analysts are correct, I am doing better in this segment of the market than Amazon who was estimated to have lost $300 million in 2016. How we measure Apple's success compared to companies giving the product away at a loss is a little tricky. It is the old market share versus profitability argument that has been around at least since Apple started selling iPhones. I would be very surprised if Apple didn't have the most profitable smart speaker on the market come the end of 2018. Guess time will tell.
Below is a quote from a similar pointy from a few years ago (I am sure there are more on many of Apple's "late" arriving products):
"While the above is compelling, Apple won’t be bringing its watch to market until early 2015. This gives other smart watchmakers plenty of time to enhance the features set of their own products, especially those powered by Android Wear. Currently, there are around 10 companies with logos displayed on Google’s Android Wear page. Each of them is solely committed to building watches powered by Android Wear.
The initial round of Android Wear-powered smart watches delivers interesting functionality. This includes the ability to talk to your watch and send messages, ask questions and “get stuff done” (Google’s words). With Android Wear developers’ ability to utilize sensors, notifications, voice actions and data transfers, the Apple Watch could be yesterday’s news by the time it hits markets next year."
Looking back now, that point was ridiculous. It is just as ridiculous this time around.