Yes, Betteridge’s Law of Headlines applies here. We can buy HomePod without even viewing or touching the little-speaker-that-could in an Apple Store (it’s not there yet; I checked). And, yes, many Apple fan folk will order sight unseen. Not me.
Why not? One can walk into a crowded Apple Store at the mall and find engaging men and women who will help you with all things Apple. Need to see an iPhone? Got ’em. iPad? Plenty. Macs? Yep. Even Watch, Apple TV, Beats headphones, and AirPods are visible and usable. You can try them first. Not HomePod.
Apple’s Achilles Heel
Apple has defied critics and seemingly common sense for decades. Apple Stores? Disaster waiting to happen. iPod? Too expensive and Mac only. iPhone? A crazy device for Apple fan folks only. Watch? Puhleeze. Over hyped.
Except that Apple sells all those devices and other critically acclaimed gadgets– acclaimed after they launched, not before– and brings in more profits from each than any competitor. Why should HomePod be any different? After all, the early reviews say it is a great sounding talking speaker that puts Amazon’s Echo and Google Home to shame.
Here’s the problem. You can’t hear it before you buy it. You’ll hear HomePod after you buy it, or at a friend’s house after he or she bought it. The Apple Store is just too noisy an environment to show off a talking speaker of this caliber.
Of course, that hasn’t stopped Amazon or Google from selling a few dozen of the Echo or Home talking speakers, but you get the idea, right? Apple Store is all about the experience– the perfect setting to try Apple’s products before you buy; a friendly place to ask questions, have someone with knowledge explain the features and benefits.
Yes, I can do that online as well as anyone else, but this device begs to be heard because that is HomePod’s key point of differentiation.
And there’s no good way to hear it before you buy it.
HomePod has a decent list of basic features to play music and query Siri, and in true Apple fashion, we’ll have even more features later in the year (AirPlay 2). For now, Siri can play podcasts, the news, any song, or album, or even audiobooks that you purchased through iTunes and your Apple ID account. It even plays live radio stations and Beats 1 and does the HomeKit device dance, plus weather, traffic, and more.
How do you try HomePod before you buy?
We can walk into an Apple Store and check out Apple TV 4K (minus the 4K HDR; hopefully an oversight Apple fixes in the future). And use Macs, iPhones, iPads, Watch, AirPods, and Beats headphones– but we won’t be able to test, truly test, the sound emanating from HomePod thanks to the noisy store atmosphere. This is one product where the Apple Store is not a benefit to a new product (other than availability seems very good for a product that was announced last year and delivered very late).
Yeah, you have to buy HomePod to try it. Let’s hope all those early adopters truly, madly, deeply love HomePod’s sound.