Apple kicks off event with virtual reality, browser privacy

Apple generally has been fine taking its time versus releasing products exclusively to keep up with the competition. Siri was introduced as a feature in the iPhone 4S in 2011, three years before Amazon came out with Alexa and the Echo. Yet here we are.

The HomePod is also integrated with Apple's HomeKit smart home platform and can complete HomeKit commands, like turning on air conditioning and adjusting window blinds.

This article will be updated when (and if) Apple reveals details of the Siri Speaker. Beyond a visual overhaul, Apple could include updates to Apple Music and some core apps like Maps. Before, Apple Pay transactions could be done only with businesses and institutions.

A lot of things can happen between now and December, and one of them has to be Sonos announcing a speaker (and a retrofit to existing speakers that already have microphones) that runs Alexa, Google Assistant, Google Home, Bixby and whatever other home automation and artificial intelligence bots it can squeeze in there. But the company relented, and Apple's larger phones have become hot commodities as more people have embraced having a bigger display to look at pictures and watch video on the devices.

Those devices are a gateway to the companies' other technology and moneymaking opportunities. The new speaker establishes a bulwark inside the home to lock customers more tightly into these services.

Apple had plenty of other announcements. The company as a whole has posted plump 38 to 40 percent gross profit margins fairly consistent for years. Therefore the product is likely to be positioned for: (i) the high-end market; (ii) better entertainment experience; and (iii) higher price than Amazon Echo.

From a business perspective for Apple, this another opportunity to keep users within its closed network of products.

The HomePod is a 6.8-inch speaker driven by an Apple A8 SoC to handle echo cancellation and optimize sound for a given space.

Although a new product announcement from Apple isn't the major pop-cultural event that it used to be, the pitiless taskmaster that is capitalism demands that the company continue pressing ever forward with sleek new gadgets exciting enough to convince consumers that last year's gadget just isn't good enough anymore.

Apple has entered the growing field of voice-controlled speakers for the home on Monday, taking on early leaders Amazon and Google.

It also rolled out developer's kits for augmented reality and machine learning on iOS 11 and upgraded its Macintosh and iPad computers.

Apple will be looking to the new product to help shore up falling iPhone revenues.

Apple so much wants us to think of music first (and, especially, its Apple Music streaming service and 40 million tracks) that it led with music as the defining feature of the HomePod.

Imagine what Apple could do if it didn't mind losing money on one product like a home speaker or from potential future products like an Apple auto or glasses that mix the virtual world with reality like the Pokemon Go game.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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