Connected home: Apple is in battle order to try to catch up with Amazon and Google
Apple launched its first connected devices for the home, HomeKit, in 2014. The same year as the launches of Alexa and Echo, respectively the voice assistant and the range of connected speakers from Amazon, and even two years before Google Home, the series of connected speakers from the Alphabet subsidiary. But Apple has always lagged behind Amazon and Google when it comes to connected home, even after the launch of the HomePod, the smart speaker from the Apple brand supposed to come and challenge its rivals from 2018. In the United States, the world’s largest market ahead of China and the United Kingdom, Jeff Bezos’ company holds 70% of the connected speakers market, while the Mountain View firm occupies nearly 25% of the market, with approximately 5% going to Apple, according to figures from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP). Globally, Apple is even behind Alibaba.
But as Amazon tries to widen the gap by flooding the out-of-home wearable market, Apple appears to be getting back into battle order in an attempt to catch up. The Cupertino company is in the midst of recruiting engineers to set up a group capable of designing new software and devices for its smart home offer, according to Bloomberg. Almost 15 vacancies have been posted on Apple’s site in the past month for positions related to the HomeKit offering, as well as other smart home devices and software. Several engineers and directors from Amazon, Qualcomm and other companies were also reportedly hired this year. The idea would be to design home automation products connected to Siri, Apple’s personal assistant, beyond the HomePod and Apple TV offers. According to job postings, Apple is looking for skills in supply chain and design of wireless devices equipped with camera modules. The brand has also indicated its intention to offer a new cloud storage feature for security cameras. What to position yourself against the Amazon Ring?
Last year, Apple was already trying to catch up with connected assistants with the takeover of Laserlike, a San Francisco-based startup that has developed a machine learning-based content search, discovery and personalization application. The platform allows users to follow different types of news in different formats (text, video, audio). The acquisition of Laserlike was to strengthen Siri’s artificial intelligence capabilities. Apple’s personal assistant is generally considered less powerful than its rivals Alexa and the Google Assistant. The latter were able to take advantage of significant cloud databases, while Apple was penalized in this regard by its favorable position to protect privacy, but especially because Siri was not open to third-party products, unlike to Alexa and the Google Assistant.
Last February, Apple also tried to catch up in voice assistants with the takeover of the Californian start-up PullString, which specializes in voice interfaces. Last year, the company headed by Tim Cook also bought Silk Labs, a start-up specializing in machine learning and artificial intelligence applied to connected devices, whose founder Andreas Gal now heads the software teams of the home products division. at Apple.
Staying competitive in connected home products has taken on enormous importance for Apple since iPhone sales have slowed. The company has already stepped up its efforts in services with, in particular, a big leap in video streaming through Apple TV +, its premium press portal News +, and even the Apple Card credit card. To diversify its revenues, the firm is also working on autonomous car technologies and augmented reality devices.