Apple pulls the plug on original HomePod
Apple announced last week that it will discontinue the HomePod — the original version that was initially priced at $299. The company, instead, will focus future development on its HomePod Mini, the $99 version of its Siri-supported smart speaker. CNET
dis-rup-shun: Apple’s move is not surprising, but disappointing. Why has the company that is capable of doing just about anything not given us enticing home automation options? Does Apple not think the home automation/smart home market is big enough? Global enough? It is not the company’s nature to shy away from paths that are well trodden by competitors such as Google and Amazon. After all, the strong growth of the smart home market will be even stronger when consumers are more confident that their most trusted brand can make the experience seamless, elegant, and interoperable with other products. Apple, please bring us video cameras, doorbells, thermostats and the like that will seamless work with HomeKit on our iPhones, iPads and Macs.
New Nest Hub tracks sleep
Nest has released its 2nd generation hub and apparently wants it to live next to your bed. In addition to voice controls, control of smart home devices, and an ample screen, the device will track sleep patterns using Soli technology. The device is priced at $99 and is the smaller, camera-less version of the larger hub. TheVerge
dis-rup-shun: Despite being available for several years, this product is still looking for a home in our homes. Kitchens are logical control centers of homes, but Google wants to put this hub next to your bed and help you with your sleep. For those that want to measure sleep, doing so without a wearable or an under-mattress device is nice, but many will be reluctant to place a listening device in their bedrooms, especially from a company that does such a fabulous job of collecting detailed information about our every move, browsing action and purchase. Let’s see how this goes over with consumers.
Phone Wars: Samsung brings back accessories in mid-range Galaxy
Samsung has unveiled a new line of Galaxy phones — the A52, A72. As expected, they bring even more features at lower costs. The prices are not yet disclosed, but expected to be in the range of $500 to $650. The surprise of the announcement is that Samsung is bringing back features and accessories that were abandoned last year: an earphone jack, a memory card slot, and a charger in the box. Of course differentiating new phones with features is increasingly challenging. Samsung has improved display quality, sound quality, and camera quality — with a 32-megapixel front-facing camera and four rear-facing cameras. CNET
dis-rup-shun: Samsung is making some quick shifts in strategy as research indicates people are keeping phones longer — closer to 3 years, and many have felt a significant squeeze from the pandemic. By providing more for less in a mid-range product, Samsung is likely to pick up a few market share points. It would be fascinating to view the market research that says consumers want chargers, memory card slots and an earphone jack. Were these added back to gain more market share or to stem consumer backlash that was caused by the elimination of these features?
Smart home and aging-in-place
Interpret, the consumer insights firm that employs this author, is pleased to be partnering with two smart home leaders: Develco Products and People Power Company for a webinar on the state of the smart home and its application to aging-in-place. The complimentary webinar is on Tuesday, March 30th and features Develco Products’ head of sales and Gene Wang, CEO and co-founder of IoT software company People Power. Register here.
dis-rup-shun: The needs for automation to assist seniors and enable them to live in place are acute, and new technologies offer great possibilities for unobtrusively tracking movements of seniors to make sure they are safe, healthy and active. Changes in sleep behaviors, bathroom behaviors, and routines are early warning signs of illness and smart home technologies have the potential to raise red flags before seniors get ill, or worse, experience a fall. Key challenges are determining who will sell these technologies, and who will pay for them. Join us on the 30th to hear how these companies are advancing the cause of technology-assisted aging-in-place.