HomePod has killer audio quality, according to Tim Cook, and that’s the real reason you’ll want to buy one. He compared HomePod to Amazon Echo and Google Home, saying they have “squeaky sound,” and can’t compete with Apple’s audio quality.
Cook shared his audio critique in an interview with the Financial Post. He said,
We think one thing that was missing from this market was a quality audio experience, a very immersive audio experience. Music deserves that kind of quality as opposed to some kind of squeaky sound.
HomePod is Apple’s smart speaker that supports streaming music and Siri voice control. Instead of promoting Siri integration Apple chose to focus on audio quality, which positions the device more as a Sonos competitor.
The public, however, seems more interested in how it competes with voice assistant devices from Amazon and Google. That could explain Cook’s comment since many consumers will wonder why they should spend US$349 on a HomePod when a second generation Amazon Echo costs $79.
Apple’s hope is that HomePod becomes the center of your home music experience instead of Sonos, or Amazon and Google’s offerings. That could be a hard sell, at least for now, because HomePod won’t have multi-room music playback support, unlike the othere company’s products. That’s coming in an update this fall, along with stereo support—at launch HomePod won’t support true stereo sound even if you have multiple units.
HomePod may not sound squeaky—we’ll know for sure on February 9th when it ships—but that may not matter to consumers who purchased an Echo or Google Home over the holidays and find the audio quality good enough. Pre-orders start this Friday and it’ll be in stores on February 9th. Apple will have a better idea then if promoting audio quality above other features resonates with customers.