Despite what it would seem, Apple was actually early to the smart home market. The 2014 release of the HomeKit app introduced the concept of what should have been an easy and popular introduction for many people to smart home features through their cell phones.
The app features connectivity to Apple TV, which could connect to smart tech like lightbulbs, A/C units and lock mechanisms. The limit was the requirement of an Apple TV which, it turns out, most people weren’t interested in purchasing. At over $100, the device is a costly addition to the list of Apple products required.
Three years later, Apple is way behind other major players in the smart home game. Google and Amazon are having far more success with their smart home appliances, the Google Home device and the Alexa Smart Speaker and Echo respectively.
Both devices function similarly to the Apple TV and allow users to easily control multiple smart gadgets in their house from one access point, but customers remain nevertheless drawn to the voice-activated devices over the phone-controlled Apple TV.
How Google is beating Apple
Customers repeatedly find the Google and Amazon products to have better command options than Siri, who controls the Apple TV and Apple Homekit, and Google’s flexibility compared to Apple’s strict, Apple-only standards mean the former has far more options for apps and other features than the latter. The Apple Homekit is nearly double the price of the Google Home for what essentially are less features and a less intuitive AI system.
The Google Home obviously includes automatic connection to all Google products, which are far more popular than their corresponding Apple products, making the device more convenient for the average shopper who isn’t necessarily in love with Safari or the app store.
The Google operating system responds to natural conversation unlike Siri, who frequently needs questions to be phrased in a particular way. Google assistant also understands follow-up questions, unlike Siri, who needs to be reminded what the conversation is about for every question or she will get confused. Google, as explained in a recent Larry Page biography, has worked harder to make their device more conversational and intuitive. Because Siri searches for information on Google, whereas Google is Google, the assistant is also more efficient at seeking and finding information through command.
How Amazon is beating Apple
While Google continues to capitalize on its open market ideology and easy user accessibility without sacrificing customization, Amazon surges ahead with its AI’s voice recognition capabilities, a strong selling point for both the Google Home and Amazon Alexa that Siri has heavily fallen behind on. Amazon is reportedly about to announce Alexa’s capability to identify different users based on their voices, which could be used to easily switch between user accounts and place security on commands like purchases.
Alexa also has a number of convenient third party features including the ability to order pizza or book a ride through the device. The Echo can connect to smart home gadgetry from a wide host of brands including Samsung and Hue. An “open ecosystem” means that unlike Apple’s Homekit, which requires that particular devices have a chip pre-installed in them in order to be compatible with the device, any company can make an Echo/Alexa-compatible device, giving customers much greater freedom to use their smart home device.
Apple has lagged in advancements for Siri, the primary force behind their lack of success in the smart home industry. But a lack of willingness to turn to an open market environment and a preference for exorbitant costs over cheap, affordable products means Apple is out of price for more customers than the latter, and will likely continue to remain behind its competitors until it chooses to change business models.