OK Google. Listen up, Alexa. Siri may soon have a say in the future of smart speakers.
Amazon’s sleeper hit Echo and its challenger Google Home have claimed spots on countertops and nightstands across America. More and more people can’t stop talking to these voice-activated, artificially intelligent devices. And that poses a competitive threat to Apple. Without a speaker device of its own, the iPhone maker could see its relationship with loyal users begin to fray.
Apple is expected to unveil a Siri-controlled speaker, and it could take the wraps off as soon as Monday when the company kicks off its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose. Even though it’s late to the smart-speaker craze, Apple’s beloved brand and fan base could help it grab a sizable chunk of the growing market, analysts say.
Just ask consumers like Mike Julianelle, who’s already ready to trade in his Amazon Echo for one.
The 40-year-old blogger from Brooklyn says he got the Echo as a gift from his wife a year ago and uses it to check the weather or to ask random questions. On weekend mornings, he plays the Beatles or the Hamilton soundtrack for his 6-year-old.
But Julianelle says his is an Apple family with a big collection of iPhones, iPads and iPods. Most of his music library is on iTunes. The Echo and Google Home mostly don’t support services from Apple, and that’s frustrating, he says.
He believes an Apple smart speaker, with high-end sound quality and easy integration with other Apple devices and services such as Apple Music, will develop an instant following with people like him.