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What is Apple’s strategy with HomePod? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Mills Baker, Product Design Manager, on Quora:

I’ve wondered what Apple’s strategy with HomePod is! Given their historic emphasis on “focus” — specifically in their product lines — their decision to enter this market likely wasn’t a simple one. Some of the reasons discussed generally were, I’m sure, relevant:

  • Defend against Amazon and Google.It’s possible, though in my opinion wholly uncertain, that the contemporary kind of voice interaction could become a crucially important platform for software and services generally, and that computation-oriented companies who don’t want to be locked out will need to enter the fray. One could imagine, for example, that increasing percentages of commerce take place through Alexa, and then Amazon somehow expands the capabilities of the platform such that additional sensors or functionality make it a primary way people socialize, message, etc. Apple’s ecosystem could be threatened in various ways.
  • Increase the value of their ecosystem.Apple may see — as they perhaps did with Beats — a quantity of profit being reaped by Sonos and company and think that it would be easy to capture it, either through purely superior offerings or comparable offerings with superior distribution. Given the fact that however healthy their primary products may be, they must continually grow revenues for shareholders, part of their long term strategy may be to gradually diversify the ways they profit from successful ecosystems they manage, until they launch a new ecosystem and can profit primarily again just from hardware sales, etc.

There may also be another angle, but this is much more speculative. I have no idea if this is even a reasonable way to think about strategy, but it occurred to me when I saw Homepod.

Over the next decade, perhaps, advances in networks might mean that everything, everywhere, is connected to the Internet. With the performance and cost of all manner of chips and sensors — which can measure many things, see or detect many things, process and transmit many things — lower than ever, people could have little reason to carry general-purpose devices. Instead, thousands of companies provide purpose-build products ideally suited for their single ends, sliced into many brands and styles and niches, all of which network ably and communicate instantly and store little locally, all of which together perform the functions of a smartphone (and many more) without any of its compromises. It can be hard to imagine this world, but opportunities for bundling and unbundling — “the only ways to make money” — are hard to predict before arriving suddenly, sometimes occasioned by orthogonal technology shifts.

In such a world, who are the “platforms,” who has leverage over whom — from pricing power to strategy —, and who can influence the landscape? It’s not hard to imagine Google more easily occupying a high-leverage role than Apple. Whichever company can centralize a multiplicity of devices more ably, integrate their information and functionality well, and distribute to them all the information they need to outperform smartphones might have an edge, and that might seem to be Google. Their strengths are favored over Apple’s; supply chains and industrial designers — as factors — will move from a centralized platform player to the decentralized world of many companies providing many products and services, while whoever can aggregate, integrate, and make use of the most data from the most disparate sources may win.

In some ways, Apple is more ready for this world then they appear: they have chip-making capabilities, work with sensors and radio waves, and so on. Indeed: HomePod and AppleWatch may be bets, among other things, that Apple will need to diversify their offerings and try to capture much of this market, since iPhones might become obsolete.

On the other hand: if unbundling is a possibility, so is new bundling. If AR technology advances to being desirable at all times for all people — if attractive glasses which can do incredible, useful things through their UIs, sensors, network connectivity, etc. are introduced — Apple could again control a generational kind of platform product, a paradigm that shapes the entire industry for a long time. In that case, the landscape might change little from the point of view of platforms, and Homepod may indeed be a primarily defensive or shareholder-pleasing play, or even an exploratory one. It’s hard to say for sure.

This questionoriginally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

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(Photo: NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images)

What is Apple’s strategy with HomePod? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Mills Baker, Product Design Manager, on Quora:

I’ve wondered what Apple’s strategy with HomePod is! Given their historic emphasis on “focus” — specifically in their product lines — their decision to enter this market likely wasn’t a simple one. Some of the reasons discussed generally were, I’m sure, relevant:

  • Defend against Amazon and Google.It’s possible, though in my opinion wholly uncertain, that the contemporary kind of voice interaction could become a crucially important platform for software and services generally, and that computation-oriented companies who don’t want to be locked out will need to enter the fray. One could imagine, for example, that increasing percentages of commerce take place through Alexa, and then Amazon somehow expands the capabilities of the platform such that additional sensors or functionality make it a primary way people socialize, message, etc. Apple’s ecosystem could be threatened in various ways.
  • Increase the value of their ecosystem.Apple may see — as they perhaps did with Beats — a quantity of profit being reaped by Sonos and company and think that it would be easy to capture it, either through purely superior offerings or comparable offerings with superior distribution. Given the fact that however healthy their primary products may be, they must continually grow revenues for shareholders, part of their long term strategy may be to gradually diversify the ways they profit from successful ecosystems they manage, until they launch a new ecosystem and can profit primarily again just from hardware sales, etc.

There may also be another angle, but this is much more speculative. I have no idea if this is even a reasonable way to think about strategy, but it occurred to me when I saw Homepod.

Over the next decade, perhaps, advances in networks might mean that everything, everywhere, is connected to the Internet. With the performance and cost of all manner of chips and sensors — which can measure many things, see or detect many things, process and transmit many things — lower than ever, people could have little reason to carry general-purpose devices. Instead, thousands of companies provide purpose-build products ideally suited for their single ends, sliced into many brands and styles and niches, all of which network ably and communicate instantly and store little locally, all of which together perform the functions of a smartphone (and many more) without any of its compromises. It can be hard to imagine this world, but opportunities for bundling and unbundling — “the only ways to make money” — are hard to predict before arriving suddenly, sometimes occasioned by orthogonal technology shifts.

In such a world, who are the “platforms,” who has leverage over whom — from pricing power to strategy —, and who can influence the landscape? It’s not hard to imagine Google more easily occupying a high-leverage role than Apple. Whichever company can centralize a multiplicity of devices more ably, integrate their information and functionality well, and distribute to them all the information they need to outperform smartphones might have an edge, and that might seem to be Google. Their strengths are favored over Apple’s; supply chains and industrial designers — as factors — will move from a centralized platform player to the decentralized world of many companies providing many products and services, while whoever can aggregate, integrate, and make use of the most data from the most disparate sources may win.

In some ways, Apple is more ready for this world then they appear: they have chip-making capabilities, work with sensors and radio waves, and so on. Indeed: HomePod and AppleWatch may be bets, among other things, that Apple will need to diversify their offerings and try to capture much of this market, since iPhones might become obsolete.

On the other hand: if unbundling is a possibility, so is new bundling. If AR technology advances to being desirable at all times for all people — if attractive glasses which can do incredible, useful things through their UIs, sensors, network connectivity, etc. are introduced — Apple could again control a generational kind of platform product, a paradigm that shapes the entire industry for a long time. In that case, the landscape might change little from the point of view of platforms, and Homepod may indeed be a primarily defensive or shareholder-pleasing play, or even an exploratory one. It’s hard to say for sure.

This questionoriginally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

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