Amazon may have launched the smart speaker market with the introduction of its first Echo device a few years ago. But these days you can also opt for a Google Home with similar functionality, and soon you’ll start to find speakers that use Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant.

Apple wants in on the action too. There’ve been rumors for a while that the company was working on a smart home/speaker solution that uses Apple’s Siri virtual assistant software. Now Bloomberg reports that Apple could unveil the speaker as soon as next week, although it isn’t expected to ship until later this year.

So what would a Siri-powered speaker have that devices powered by Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, or Microsoft’s Cortana don’t?

According to Bloomberg, two things:

  • A virtual surround sound feature
  • Integration with Apple’s ecosystem

That first one sounds like a gimmick, but I’d be happy to be proven wrong. The second one? That’s pretty important.

Amazon did just announce that its Alexa-powered devices would be able to sync with iCloud calendars. But Apple’s system will probably go much further by integrating with iTunes, Apple Music, iCloud, and HomeKit, just to name a few services that iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac owners may already be using.

Essentially, Apple already has an ecosystem of products that work well together. While you could certainly buy a Roku and use it in an Apple-centric home, an Apple TV might be a better solution if you’ve already invested in a bunch of Apple apps and services. Likewise, you’d get limited cross-device functionality if you purchased an Amazon Echo. But if you buy a Siri speaker? It’d just work… with all of your other stuff.

In that way, Apple’s first smart speaker doesn’t actually have to be better than the competition. It just has to sync with your other stuff better… assuming your other stuff comes from Apple.

But Apple does probably need to offer something in this space. If demand for smart home speakers continues to rise and Apple doesn’t provide its own solution, then iPhone and Mac users might opt for a competing product… and decide that when it comes time to sign up for a streaming music service, for instance, to spend their money on a Spotify, Google, or Amazon Music subscription rather than an Apple Music subscription.

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6 replies on “Apple’s Siri-powered Echo competitor’s key selling point: It’s an Apple product”

  1. Integrating with things that are apple only is a backwards step – especially failures like icloud, or its fragmented multiple music systems (and who uses itunes anymore).

    If you need every product to be from the same company, it’s not working well. I’m sure the minority of apple mugs will have to buy it, but it doesn’t mean it works better than anything else. And for the rest of the planet that don’t use apple, it offers nothing.

    The joke is that “siri” is powered by Bing! As is Alexa too.

  2. Apple had better come up with some pretty
    amazing things with the Siri speaker. The market
    is Amazon’s to lose, with 11,000 skills, some
    70+% market share, and an ever widening product
    portfolio in this space.

    Look for an Amazon Echo Show product geared
    for kids (it’s a no brainer), and more services for
    elderly people (that SNL AARP spoof on the Echo
    may be a preview of things to come).

  3. The issue for Apple though is that many of its users actually prefer and use Google services. Or for music a handful of third party options which remain popular despite Apple Music – or whatever it’s called. iMusic?
    All in all Apple has more money than god and a huge user base which will buy and also pay more just because it says “Apple” on it. So they will be just fine. They could probably stop selling anything at all and turn higher profits than most companies in the world just by managing their massive asset pile.
    All that aside though it’s clear something has shifted both at Apple and in the public consciousness about Apple. The name itself used to be a killing word. Now it’s more just a name.

  4. Assuming most of this stuff is reliable info, I really hate what Apple has become – products that offer nothing more than the competition, “me too” clones to follow trends instead of leading the pack, quality tends to vary (which was never an issue with Apple before), and they only rely on the brand to justify the price tags.

  5. This meme that Apple “just works” needs to go away. I hate my Macbook Pro, and it finds new ways to fight with me every day, it seems. My latest battle is out of order keystroke interpretation; I hit cmd-space to open Spotlight and type “term” to open the terminal, but instead, the text goes into the chat program I had open and then the Spotlight window appears. This is on top of all the hacks I had to do to get certain folders to show up in Finder and for the ability to change the dock on student computers.

    This is on top of the unreliability of the Apple TV, the crazy iPad-killing software updates I’ve been through, and just general shoddiness of the software for the overpriced hardware. I don’t see the benefits of the Apple ecosystem, having lived in most corners of it.

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