Mark Gurman’s bet: Why Apple’s HomePod is 3 years behind Amazon’s Echo

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:

When the $350 gadget debuts early next year (on Friday Apple delayed the launch from December), the HomePod won’t be able to do many of the things the Echo can. Amazon offers thousands of “skills” (voice-activated apps) that let users do a range of things (including buy stuff from Amazon). The Google Home Mini, which debuted earlier this year, is similarly endowed. The HomePod will be mostly limited to playing tunes from Apple Music, controlling Apple-optimized smart home appliances and sending messages through an iPhone.

“This is a huge missed opportunity,” said one of the people, who requested anonymity to discuss an internal matter. Apple declined to comment.

I’m just going to quote this Daring Fireball piece from 2006, which itself quotes a post from the San Jose Mercury News, but Gruber really brought this to fame:

Responding to questions from New York Times correspondent John Markoff at a Churchill Club breakfast gathering Thursday morning, Colligan laughed off the idea that any company — including the wildly popular Apple Computer — could easily win customers in the finicky smart-phone sector.

“We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,” he said. “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

This pattern repeats itself over and over again. They’re not going to just walk in. Until they do.

My money is on Apple and HomePod here. This is not casting doubt on Amazon’s Echo or Google Home. But Apple has an obvious advantage, a real barrier to entry for both Google and Amazon. Even if they don’t reveal all their cards from day one, HomePod (and HomePod Mini, if such a thing eventually ships) will have intimate, private API access to the Apple ecosystem.

Silly to bet against that home court advantage.