A few years ago, the smart speaker market was essentially non-existent. These days, with Amazon’s Echo lineup leading the charge, competition in the smart speaker space is becoming incredibly fierce. Not only does Google have an Echo competitor dubbed Google Home, but rumor has it that Apple is planning to roll out an Echo competitor of its own later this year. While nothing is set in stone just yet, reputable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo — who has the best track record in the business with respect to Apple rumors — recently said that Apple may introduce its Siri-based Echo rival in just three weeks at WWDC.
Recently, Apple executive Phil Schiller effectively said that he finds current smart speakers uninspiring because they don’t have a display, strongly suggesting that Apple’s own Siri-based hardware would be differeint. Interestingly enough, Amazon earlier today rendered Schiller’s comments moot when it introduced a new Echo device with a touchscreen that it calls the the Echo Show.
In the wake of Amazon introducing the Echo Show, Bloomberg relays that the Echo Show will allow users to play music from a number of streaming services, including Spotify and Pandora. Conspicuously absent, however, is support for Apple Music, an omission that not surprisingly has more to do with Apple than with Amazon.
To this point, Amazon’s Dave Limp said that while Amazon would love to feature streaming support for Apple Music, Apple — at least for now — isn’t interested in opening up its music service to third-parties. That said, we can only hope that Apple Music’s absence from all things Echo is only temporary, especially amid reports that Apple and Amazon finally reached a deal to bring Amazon Video to Apple TV. Still, if Apple is going head to head with Amazon in the smart speaker space, Apple may reasonably opt to keep Apple Music off of competing devices.
Another interesting tidbit is that Apple’s Siri-based Echo competitor may not necessarily feature a display. While Schiller seemed to suggest that a smart speaker without a display is nothing worth getting excited about, Bloomberg notes that it’s not yet a guarantee.
Apple employees have been testing a device at home for several months, according to people familiar with the matter. While marketing chief Phil Schiller recently talked up the benefits of having a screen on a voice-activated device, it’s not clear whether the Apple version will in fact have one.
With WWDC now less than a month away, the good news is that we presumably won’t have to wait too long to see what Apple has in store for us.