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Home / Apple / It's time for Apple to come back to the smart home in a big way

It's time for Apple to come back to the smart home in a big way



Apple's current strategy in the home tech market is a bit creepy. It launched HomePod and Apple TV 4K in 2017, and HomeKit support seems to have become much more prevalent lately, but it has also killed the AirPort series of products and has backed up as competitors like Google and Amazon snap up companies like Nest and Eero.

This week we learned that the company has hired a new head of home products, asking me to ask: What does Apple Sam Jadallah expect to do? Is his job making deals with HomeKit partners and making HomePod more successful? Or is it such a thing that happens when a company changes gear because it realized that the old strategy didn't work?

There is no end to Apple's ability to build multiple devices for the home. It just has to decide if it will compete in that market or write everything off. I am increasingly believing that Apple needs to do more, no less, to build home products.

Entertainment Central

Beyond HomeKit, Apple really has two home users: Apple TV and HomePod. Without getting into the messy details, I just say that Apple needs to make them both cheaper. But there is another home entertainment product category that Apple could enter and do pretty well, and all it takes is a merger of the two existing products: a sound bar.

  Sonos Playbase black Sonos

Sonos Playbase

Sonos Playbase

] The audio bar is a relatively recent addition to the home computer. It is a horizontal box that contains multiple speakers that are usually mounted on or under a video monitor, providing good sound (and surround sound effects) to modern HDTVs that are generally great in pictures and miserable in terms of sound. Sonos sells one for $ 399, and another for $ 699.

These prices are relevant because in the home entertainment market, Apple has struggled to be competitive – even Sonos (a company that has never been accused of being low – price leader) offers a connected speaker that is comparable to HomePod for a much lower price. The Soundbar world, however, seems to be a place where Apple could praise a product that is higher than HomePod and actually make a hole.

Here's my suggestion: Apple should build a connected smart speaker designed to be paired with flat screen TVs. It would basically be a HomePod, with an important difference – when the TV was on, it would also be an Apple TV, accept TV input, and act as a video source that can play video from all Apple TV's services compatible with, including Apple's upcoming TV service.

This is not a groundbreaking product, but it feels to me that it fills a particular niche, can sell well to the price Apple will charge it, and using technology Apple has been delivering for a while now. I want to buy one.


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