Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has been involved in the smart home for years without making much progress. HomeKit was supposed to be the center of the smart home, but it lagged behind competitors in the technology lineup in the number of compatible products available and is still a bit inconvenient to use and set up. The HomePod has never been as widely accepted as the smart speaker Apple envisioned. And even Apple TV is not “mandatory” for Apple users. Gather them and the company just had trouble building a cohesive strategy at home.
The HomePod Mini, which was unveiled on Tuesday along with the iPhone 12, could change Apple̵
Apple fixes HomePod bugs
When the HomePod was introduced in 2018, it seemed like a logical extension of the product for Apple. The company was already in the music business and Siri was integrated into the iPhone, so the speaker was the next step. But the product started at $ 349, which makes it very expensive compared to Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) Echo and Alphabet 09.30 NASDAQ: GOOG Home / jack speakers.
The HomePod Mini fixes this for only $ 99. And the form factor is much smaller than the original HomePod. The low price and the ability to create rooms in the home make it a great audio system for a full home, which would be extremely expensive with the original HomePod.
The other problem that the HomePod Mini fixes is the integration with other Apple devices. The benefit of using Apple’s ecosystem is that the products work together seamlessly. But there isn’t much integration between new products like CarPlay, AirPods, Apple Watch and home. New features with the HomePod Mini, such as the Intercom feature, are beginning to connect all of these products into a more cohesive ecosystem.
Will the HomePod Mini resonate with consumers?
Apple again relies on what it says is different from Amazon and Alphabet in the smart home. The security of Siri was emphasized during the launch of the HomePod Mini and this will be a great selling point if you are a person who values the security of Apple products.
The real innovation of the HomePod Mini could be its integration into the Apple ecosystem. The intercom function can be used between CarPlay to home or even to AirPods. The ability to connect and communicate at this level can facilitate hands-free communication in the ecosystem from devices connected to the network.
The key concept for long-term thinking is hands-free. I think we’re starting to see Apple’s vision of connecting people, devices, and services with just the sound of our voice. If used to its full potential, the HomePod Mini can control home temperature, lighting, locks, garage doors, music, and be a communication tool. There is no integration with Apple TV, where it can even replace the remote.
What I have to wonder is whether the features will be used as intended by Apple. HomeKit was originally supposed to be a smart home center for everyone, and although it is included in hundreds of millions of iPhones, it is still not revolutionizing the smart home. If the SiP HomePod Mini can open this line of communication between consumers and Apple’s home product, it could be a key link in the product ecosystem.
Does the HomePod Mini change the game?
I see the HomePod Mini as an additional step forward for Apple in building a connected ecosystem of devices that includes the home. But this is not the key to the ecosystem (this is the iPhone) or a revolutionary new device (AirPods), but a tidy product that will be a nice luxury addition for some users. And with the security that Apple always includes in its products, this could be a device that some users will welcome in their homes where Alexa and Google Assistant are turned off.