To hear technology pundits tell it, Amazon’s Echo with Alexa is the future of internet personal assistants and the best artificial intelligent device available for average citizens. The narrative tells us that Apple is doomed because Google Assistant and Google Home and Amazon’s various Echo devices are the future but here now. Many of those same members of the technorati elite would lead you to believe that Apple is doomed and Apple Watch was a huge failure.
You would think math would rule, but Amazon, Google, and Apple won’t tell anyone how many of their devices have been sold to date, so we’re, 1) left to guess, or, 2) left to read someone else’s guesses.
As to the latter, Apple’s Watch is a highly profitable multi-billion dollar business while Home and Echo are not. To hear the negative narrative, Apple’s own artificial intelligence, Siri, the personal digital assistant available on over 1-billion iPhones, iPads, and Macs, is a failure and will never improve sufficiently to catch up.
Yet, here we are with yet another Apple rumor, this one called the Siri Speaker, a device that Apple will introduce soon, a personal digital assistant that should work much like Echo and Alexa and Google Home. An always-on listening device that can take commands, play music, perform various actions in the home and control a few gadgets here and there.
Let’s assume for the moment that such home-based devices– Amazon Echo, Google Home– are the future and Apple, as usual, is late to the party. As usual? Historically, Apple is late to nearly every party. It’s modus operandi.
- Mac – Lisa came before, but inspired by Xerox PARC devices with a GUI
- iPod – many portable music players came before iPod and iTunes
- iPhone – many smartphones existed before the iconic iPhone debuted
- iPad – tablet PCs were around for a decade before the iPad
- Watch – Apple didn’t invent the smartwatch, but owns competitors
That should suffice, there are other products and innovations, too (including iTunes, iTunes Music Store, Apple Stores, et al), but you get the idea. The fact that Apple does not invent a new technology category should not be cause for concern.
A so-called Siri Speaker and SiriKit could debut at June’s WWDC 2017 event. My concern for such a device is what I call device fatigue. Maybe it’s a thing, maybe it’s not, but I suspect there is something of a limit to how many internet connected devices most people want or need.
Device fatigue might help to explain why iPad’s sales have declined drastically the past three years. It’s just another device to manage, another device to upgrade, another device on the charge card, and another device to learn, although in the case of Siri Speaker, it might become a device to teach.
Look at how many devices Apple has on the market already. Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch, Apple TV– all of which have Siri already built in– plus, the iPod line and wearables (Beats headphones and AirPods). That’s a long list of products that can be used but must be purchased and managed.
A so-called Siri Speaker only adds to the list, adds to a growing device fatigue, and likely does about the same as Siri on all of Apple’s major devices. The key to success here will be what Siri Speaker does, and how it differs from Siri on the iPhone (and other devices).
I have yet to read or hear a good argument as to why we need to buy another box that ostensibly does what our devices do now.