Strange news last week: The full-size HomePod, Apple’s latest and potentially misleading product choice, is skyrocketing in the resale market after it crashed again in the spring of 2021. It’s weird but inexplicable. As my colleague Jason Snell pointed out, the HomePod was a case of Apple making trade-offs that ultimately attracted only a niche audience — but a niche audience that was very are excited about her.
The lesson I took from all this is that while a full-size HomePod hasn’t necessarily been a market success, Apple must be willing to take risks about product categories that might not be an obvious public gratification. Macs, iPhones, iPads — these are all well-established products these days, which the company can count on selling in droves when they release updates every year or two. It’s easy, and if I may say so, it’s boring.
But exotic one-off products? The kind that seems destined to be appreciated by the few? These are the places where you never know when you might find success.
HomePod is big again
The full-size HomePod was not working. That’s okay: The HomePod mini seems to be doing just fine, all things considered. The question is really whether Apple will release a product to fill the void left by the miniature’s big brother.
One suggestion that’s frequently asked is that a HomePod with a screen, like Google’s Nest Hub or Amazon’s Echo Show, might be in the works, and that’s fine — but a little obvious. On the other side of the fence, there are rumors that Apple is working on a successor to the HomePod that integrates a camera for FaceTime calls and connects to your TV.
Ben Patterson / IDJ
I like this idea. It’s definitely weird: are people going to replace their receivers just to get a camera to make video calls? It certainly doesn’t look like that. But this does not mean that he will not have an appeal. Honestly, nothing else fills that exact space on the market. Sure, you have standalone video conferencing utilities like Meta Portal, but well, that’s a few scary. On the other hand, there’s something that functions as a set-top box and has a camera – perhaps with a Center Stage – and FaceTime built in, well, that kind of device-like device might just be the kind of thing to gain consumers. Especially with Apple’s privacy-conscious marketing in the mix.
Add in HomePod functionality of some sort—perhaps as a component for speakers—and you have a device that easily meets the needs of having many others. Perhaps there is something to this idea, as brutal as it is.
Although indications seem to be that this device will actually arrive early this year, I’m including Apple’s AR/VR headset in the “let’s be weird” section, for the simple reason that I have absolutely no idea what Apple is expecting. From consumers out of it.
Hayden Dingmann / IDJ
Augmented and virtual reality devices are of course not new. But despite its growing popularity, the most common use of things like the Oculus and HTC Vive has been largely gaming. (At least until Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse scene takes shape in the dark behind the stars, anyway.) But the games really aren’t Apple’s cockpit, Apple Arcade is. It’s hard to imagine a company as famous for pleasing as Apple spends time and money creating a product that doesn’t have a compelling story; ergo, the simplest explanation is that Do We have a story: we don’t know what it is yet.
We’ve seen Apple touting its AR software capabilities for years, so it certainly looks like the company has a destination in mind for what all of this is built for. We’re just here for the cheap seats we haven’t seen yet, and that’s something I’m looking forward to, because – and I’m not ashamed to admit it – it’s new and different.
I think strange
Apple has tried its hand at an odd way before, and it certainly doesn’t always pay off: the 20th Anniversary Macintosh, the buttonless iPod shuffle, and the Power Mac G4 Cube come to mind.[Don’t forget iPod Socks. They were definitely weird.—Editor] I’m sure all of these products had their advocates and appealed to a certain segment of people – well, maybe not the random change without buttons – but one could argue that the original Mac, the first iPod, and even the Apple Watch were all examples of products Which were a bit off the beaten track, but ultimately proved to be not only hits but watershed moments.
So Apple shouldn’t stop being weird. If she has a great idea for a robot walking your dog, a giant table-size iPad, or a speaker you wear in a hat, you should give her a chance, because you never know what the plus side is.
On its way to becoming one of the most valuable and prominent companies in the world, Apple has at times strayed from what has always been one of its great strengths: the desire to think differently. That’s kind of weird I could fall behind.