A Cross Platform HomePod Could Be Apple’s Next iPod

1 minute read
| Devil's Advocate

Apple is making a mistake by not making HomePod cross platform.  If it did, the HomePod could become Apple’s next iPod.

When Apple launched the iPod, it was tethered to Macintosh only. Things only took off for Apple in the most profound ways when those inside of Apple finally convinced Steve Jobs to put the iPod and iTunes out for Windows.  It created the legendary “Halo Effect” that also increased sales of Macintosh.

The huge rush of revenue and entrance into the world of consumer electronics launched Apple into a trajectory to become the most valuable corporation on earth. Had they kept the artificial limit tethering the iPod only to the Mac, Apple would be profoundly different today.

HomePod

HomePod

The Next iPod

Apple has the same opportunity with the HomePod, but so far is blowing it.  The next “thing” in tech will be human interaction with smart agents like Alexa, Bixby, Cortona, OK Google, and Siri.  Nothing of note done currently with assistants needs to be tethered to a particular operating system, or even an ecosystem.  These agents can be their own thing.

And that can be a dangerous thing for Apple.

For example, Apple weirdly limits HomePod to just Apple Music (i.e., no native support for Spotify). But there is no inherent technical difficulty to integrate 3rd party services. By not providing access to agent level services that people may want, at some point, it may drive consumers off to a smart agent that offers the greatest “agent ecosystem.”

And right now, Amazon is winning on that front by being available on every operating system and being more open to 3rd party services. If a smart agent can be its own ecosystem, and is the next big ecosystem, Apple may miss the boat by cloistering itself.

But it is still early days, and frankly, Apple has nothing to lose by making HomePod cross platform.  Actually, by making a HomePod setup application for Android devices, and letting Android users access Apple Music through that app so it is also available on HomePod, it lets a broader audience adopt the HomePod. That is an important “in” to the next big thing.

4 Comments Add a comment

  1. gGrant

    Agree that HomePod should be platform agnostic, as Apple Music is agnostic. And probably will be.

    There is a school of thought that Siri will become an Operating System of its own, opening computing to even wider markets than iOS. Home Pod would have a place there. I see where this is going (message John, make an appointment, email Jeff, call Bryan – and if it gets a screen, Instagram the latest photo of Kelly, etc), but frankly how close are we to that being functional more than 50% of the time?

    Don’t worry about Spotify too much. It hasn’t made a profit, won’t make a profit and will soon disappear. Strangely, streaming services like Spotify were set up my record company executives, didn’t pay artists much and only the record companies made anything out of them. Against music streaming from companies that don’t need to make a profit on the music, like Apple (who may actually pay artists), Amazon, Google – the Spotifys of this world are over if not out.

  2. John Kheit

    You’re like right about spotify. Nevertheless, lack of openness and too much restriction can keep a platform from succeeding. HomeKit is a good example. Too many providers find it way too burdensome to deal with, and we see the dearth of HomeKit options as a result.

    That said, it seems early in this particular game of chess…

    • shameermulji

      The dearth of HomeKit options is not related to it being open or closed. It had to do with the fact that hardware makers had to use an Apple-certified hardware chip for authentication / security which added complexity and cost to the product. As of iOS 11.3, that is now done via software which should make it much easier for hardware makers. Knock on wood, later this year or next year there should be much more options for HomeKit-capable hardware.

  3. gGrant

    I have absolutely no interest in home automation, but I have a fantasy that HomeKit is secure and just about everything else isn’t. Then everything that works with HomeKit plus other systems is insecure, but things that are HomeKit-only are secure. And ultimately, I see limited choice a consequence of security for HomeKit, and that’s a price worth paying.

    There are more ifs in that para than ever used in history before it, but that’s my wish… If home automation ever becomes something worth using, HomeKit will be secure and limited good choice is sufficient.

    I have no interest in Augmented Reality, or Virtual either. Nor Tim Cook’s political distractions from not shipping product… which means, there’s NOTHING Apple is doing that I want to hear about. Makes following Apple news almost worthless. To your comments on pop.0 32, Apple is 10 times the size it was pre-iPhone and even though services and maps are incredibly resource intensive, they must have enough people there to simply keep incrementing hardware to keep up with current technology. Maybe they do need product divisions again. Functional divisions seems to have run its course and totally failed to keep platform parity, despite that apparently being the focus. The theory of re-organisations is that you just keep centralising and decentralising in hope of taking two steps forward and one step back, but ultimately pushing forward. I don’t know if that ever applied to Apple, but it seems to have been applied here… like everything else, theory and experts have taken over the startup mentality. Hopefully, Cook sees what’s happened and now realises what Steve was doing in a more profound way, possibly for the first time. Hopefully.

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