It’s a mere 4 days until Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference 2017, where we expect to see some of their flagship products for the year. Reports are now emerging that Apple’s Siri-enabled smart speaker has gone into production overseas. According to Bloomberg’s sources, the devices may be debuted at WWDC, which starts on Monday, June 5, but will not be available for purchase until later this year.
The anonymous sources also claimed that Apple is using virtual surround sound for the new smart speaker, and that it will be deeply integrated with Apple’s other products. One area of integration would be Apple HomeKit, the smart home hub used to control smart appliances. In addition, we are sure to see Apple Music being integrated with the new Siri-controlled smart speaker.
The product is clearly going to be targeted at Apple’s existing device user base, since Google Home and Amazon Echo, it’s chief rivals, don’t have that much cross-talk with Apple’s products and services. From that perspective, the Siri smart speakers could have solid market potential.
On the skills front, Siri on the new smart speakers won’t be likely to offer much more than what Siri on iPhone already does, but with SiriKit now allowing developers to integrate Siri capability into their own apps, it opens up the potential for a Siri-based smart device.
Note that this is not the same as what Amazon or Google are offering developers. It’s merely a Siri integration tool, not a skills development platform. But, it should help Siri on the smart speaker access a larger pool of apps that are integrated with Siri on iPhones and other devices.
But the biggest benefit to Apple won’t be from sales of the new smart speaker, but how it impacts Apple’s services ecosystem. By offering this product as an alternative to the Echo or Home, Apple can more effectively lock-in its users to existing services such as Apple Music. Until now, Apple users haven’t had that option, which is why a lot of them own an Echo or a Home. Hopefully, that will change with the new smart speaker from Apple.