Gadgets

Published on February 12th, 2018 | by Alan Cross

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Apple’s HomePod was released in the US and UK on Friday. What are people saying about it?

HomePod, Apple’s long-delayed smart speaker, finally showed up in stores in the US and UK on Friday (Canada won’t see them for months) sparking new comments and analysis of the whole smart speaker market.

Let’s start with Music Business Worldwide on how voice recognition speakers are changing the music industry.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 12 months you will be aware of the unprecedented development and take up of virtual assistants and smart speakers. Make no mistake: these devices and this technology will have a profound effect on our industry across all sectors.

A recent survey from Adobe Analytics discovered that the most popular activity on voice controlled devices is, yep, you guessed it, playing music.

That’s pretty important for us as an industry if you consider that as I write this there are an estimated 39 million smart speakers in the USA alone.

During CES conference in January this year, Pandora CEO Roger Lynch said Pandora listening on voice enabled devices was up 300% year on year. And in December, the BBC launched its first full voice app for voice-controlled smart speakers.

What does this mean for the music industry? Read on.
Music Week has this on why voice control for music is the future.

HomePod seems aimed more at the aficionado – but whether that’s the market for voice-activated devices remains to be seen.

Talking to music biz executives, it seems like the most common requests to Alexa are general: “Play music” or “Play jazz”, rather than specific (“Alexa, please play Mega Armageddon Death by the Electro Hippies”).

Which means that the real key question for the music business may not be which device dominates, but how you ensure your music – rather than someone else’s – is played in response to such requests.

The public may be too busy dancing to pay much attention to Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant’s choices, but the biz will be sweating over the algorithms long before the battle for voice supremacy reaches its end game.

So hey, Siri, welcome to the party. Are you ready for a fight to the death?

* To read Music Week’s verdict on the new HomePod, click here.
Finally, here’s a take by Music Ally.

The Apple HomePod joined the smart-speakers battle on Friday, with first shipments of the device landing in people’s living rooms and kitchens. The first takes on HomePod in last week’s reviews are hardening into a wider critical consensus: that the device offers excellent audio quality, but that its ‘smart’ aspects are more limited than the main rivals.

Investment firm Loup Ventures published an interesting study comparing the main smart speakers along those lines: posing 782 voice queries (in categories including local, commerce, information and navigation) to a HomePod, a Google Home, an Amazon Echo and a Harman Kardon Invoke – the latter uses Microsoft’s Cortana for its smarts.

“Siri understood 99.4% of queries and answered 52.3% of them correctly. This places HomePod at the bottom of the totem pole in terms of AI assistant performance,” wrote Loup Ventures’ Gene Munster (a long-time Apple analyst). “Overall, Siri performed above our expectations given the limited scope of HomePod’s music focus. Adding domains will quickly improve Siri’s score. Some domains like navigation, calendar, email, and calling are simply not supported.”
Keep reading.

 

 




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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One Response to Apple’s HomePod was released in the US and UK on Friday. What are people saying about it?

  1. Jay says:

    $349 US? Sweet jesus… I find the Google Home Mini useless enough for the $49 that was paid for it. (Was a gift, I would have preferred the Amazon Echo Dot, but wasn’t my choice.)

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