When Apple unveiled its Siri-powered HomePod speaker on Monday, it was widely seen as a response to similar devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. After all, all three gadgets have voice-activated assistants, all play music, and all can deliver news headlines, weather reports and control smart home devices.
But Amazon Senior Vice President of Devices David Limp says there are big differences between Apple’s HomePod and Amazon’s Echo devices.
“It’s a little different philosophically than how we’re looking at Echo,” said Limp, who spoke with reporters at the Wired Business Conference on Wednesday. “We see [Echo devices] as endpoints for assistants; you’ll want them in every room . . . If you think about putting a device in every room, times $350, it becomes an expensive purchase.”
Amazon’s cheapest Echo device, the Echo Dot, sells for about $50. Its most expensive model, the touchscreen-equipped Echo Show, costs about $230. Apple’s HomePod will launch for $349 in December.
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Limp also argued that the Echo is a more flexible device compared to the HomePod. Echo owners can link their devices to their existing sound systems, for instance, which Limp says offers more choice. “Peoples’ taste in speakers are incredibly personal,” said Limp. “It’s like cars; what you might like in terms of bass response, you might hate because you like classical music.”
Apple, meanwhile, is touting the HomePod as a high-quality speaker in and of itself. The company says it’s capable of scanning a room and adjusting its sound output to match the space it’s in.
Limp added that he doesn’t view the relationship between the Echo, the Google Home and Apple’s HomePod as a platform war akin to the battle between Android devices and iPhones. Rather, he likened the role of voice assistants and smart speakers to the relationship between the web and individual websites. He even suggested that Amazon could make the Echo compatible with Siri. “You should be able to tell ‘Alexa, ask Siri X,'” said Limp. “I think that’s a very real use case.”