The Apple HomePod may sound great, but is it worth it? Of course not.
Tha Apple HomePod is finally here! Finally, those users stuck in Apple’s “walled garden” can finally have a voice activated assistant. Well, to be honest, they could before. Both Amazon’s Alexa products and Google Home products will work with iOS devices. But for those Apple purists, they can finally have a voice activated assistant with the Apple brand name.
Of course, there are a few caveats that come with the Apple HomePod, and really, with any Apple product.
Apple’s new product comes with a whopping price tag of $349.99. If Apple was first to market with a completely new category, I could almost understand the price. Unfortunately for Apple, they are, once again, essentially the last little piggy to the market.
The Amazon Echo, which was the first piggy to market, and is now on it’s second, improved generation, will currently run you $84.99. Think about it, you could have an different Echo in four rooms of your house for the same price as one HomePod!
You’d be giving up one room’s coverage if you chose the Google Home which is currently retailing for $99.00.
It’s important to note that both Amazon and Google have full featured mini versions of their devices which come in at just under $40. For that price you would have every room covered and a few left over for your friends for the price that Apple is offering.
Ok, look. Siri burst onto the scene back in 2011 on the iPhone 4S. She was amazing. I think it’s fair to say she outperformed every other voice activated product at the time. That was 7 years ago though, and much has changed. In that time, Amazon introduced Alexa, which actually has some personality, and Google introduced it’s assistant which may not have the personality, but makes up for it with spot on recognition. Siri has actually become more of a joke, with most words spoken about Siri being complaints of how she doesn’t understand what is being asked of her. Apple has a lot of catching up to do, and while I am sure they are capable of catching up to today’s products, those products development aren’t going to be slowing down for her.
Now this is where Apple’s true colors come out. CNET reporter Chris Matyszczyk reports that when he purchased his device, he was warned about repair costs from the Apple Store employee. The employee warned him that the power cable was permanently attached to the device, and should it be ripped out, that it would cost him $279 to be repaired.
9to5Mac provides some different information. According to this site, if the cord becomes damaged or unattached, the price to repair will be $29. Well, it will be $29 provided that it meets Apple’s Visual Mechanical Inspection, in which the Apple employee will ensure that “there is no obvious user-inflicted physical damage to the HomePod enclosure, or damage inside of the HomePod’s power cord connector or to the cord itself including liquid damage”. I’m assuming if the Apple employee decides that there is, then the cost to repair will revert back to the $279, which apparently is the actual cost for any other repairs to the device besides the cord.
For a cord? Really Apple?
My first question after hearing this was why? Why would Apple make a cord integral to the unit? There’s simply no reason for that. First of all, Apple has never been known to produce decent cords. There is a massive market for replacement iPhone cords and we’ve all seen the frayed and cracked tangles which our iPhone using friends pull out to charge their phones. Furthermore, with the cost of this product, we can be assured that users will be unplugging the device and carrying it from room to room with them as they go about their day. I’m betting this cord will see more action than an Amazon Echo cord or a Google Home cord, because users of those devices tend to have more than one spread around the house. Additionally, both of these devices have user replaceable cords. The Amazon devices simply use a regular USB!
Well, it turns out the cord isn’t really that integral after all. Don’t get me wrong, Apple surely doesn’t want it being removed, but 9to5Mac shows that it can be done. The cord has a very strong attachment, but it really is just a plug in cord. Easy enough to be reattached, and easy enough to be replaced. Except for one small problem. Once again, Apple has gone with a proprietary cable. One which, of course, isn’t available to the public. And just to add insult to injury, it appears that if a user does need to have this cord replaced, it won’t take place in a store. The device will need to be returned to Apple to be fixed or replaced, meaning that the user will go without their HomePod for a period of time.