Apple’s HomePod was released in the US and UK on Friday. What are people saying about it?

Apple’s HomePod was released in the US and UK on Friday. What are people saying about it?
Investment firm Loup Ventures published an interesting study comparing the main smart speakers along those lines: posing 782 voice queries (in categories including local, commerce, information and navigation) to a HomePod, a Google Home, an Amazon Echo and a Harman Kardon Invoke – the latter uses Microsoft’s Cortana for its smarts. Adding domains will quickly improve Siri’s score. Make no mistake: these devices and this technology will have a profound effect on our industry across all sectors. “Overall, Siri performed above our expectations given the limited scope of HomePod’s music focus. This places HomePod at the bottom of the totem pole in terms of AI assistant performance,” wrote Loup Ventures’ Gene Munster (a long-time Apple analyst). And in December, the BBC launched its first full voice app for voice-controlled smart speakers. HomePod seems aimed more at the aficionado – but whether that’s the market for voice-activated devices remains to be seen. The Apple HomePod joined the smart-speakers battle on Friday, with first shipments of the device landing in people’s living rooms and kitchens. Some domains like navigation, calendar, email, and calling are simply not supported.”
Keep reading. Are you ready for a fight to the death? What does this mean for the music industry? Talking to music biz executives, it seems like the most common requests to Alexa are general: “Play music” or “Play jazz”, rather than specific (“Alexa, please play Mega Armageddon Death by the Electro Hippies”). Which means that the real key question for the music business may not be which device dominates, but how you ensure your music – rather than someone else’s – is played in response to such requests. During CES conference in January this year, Pandora CEO Roger Lynch said Pandora listening on voice enabled devices was up 300% year on year. The public may be too busy dancing to pay much attention to Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant’s choices, but the biz will be sweating over the algorithms long before the battle for voice supremacy reaches its end game. Read on. Finally, here’s a take by Music Ally. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 12 months you will be aware of the unprecedented development and take up of virtual assistants and smart speakers. So hey, Siri, welcome to the party. Music Week has this on why voice control for music is the future. The first takes on HomePod in last week’s reviews are hardening into a wider critical consensus: that the device offers excellent audio quality, but that its ‘smart’ aspects are more limited than the main rivals. HomePod, Apple’s long-delayed smart speaker, finally showed up in stores in the US and UK on Friday (Canada won’t see them for months) sparking new comments and analysis of the whole smart speaker market. “Siri understood 99.4% of queries and answered 52.3% of them correctly.  
  * To read Music Week’s verdict on the new HomePod, click here. Let’s start with Music Business Worldwide on how voice recognition speakers are changing the music industry. A recent survey from Adobe Analytics discovered that the most popular activity on voice controlled devices is, yep, you guessed it, playing music. That’s pretty important for us as an industry if you consider that as I write this there are an estimated 39 million smart speakers in the USA alone.