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At Apple’s developer conference, Timothy D. Cook offered a preview of the HomePod speaker, which will be available in December.

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Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Apple unveiled the HomePod, its version of a smart-connected speaker, at its annual developer conference on Monday. Many people took this as a sign that Apple was simply a follower, since the company will be behind Amazon and Google in releasing a speaker product.

But Farhad Manjoo, technology columnist for The New York Times, has another perspective. He notes that Apple is rarely first to market with a new kind of device — the iPhone was not the first smartphone to be released, for example. What Apple does instead is reinvent products to be better than their predecessors.

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In this case, Farhad writes, Apple’s reinvention with the HomePod will also mean something larger. Apple has been under scrutiny for some time about whether it can keep growing, given its large size and questions about what new products it can churn out to keep up with high expectations from investors. To meet those demands, Farhad says, Apple also needs to reinvent itself.

Specifically, for Apple to make the HomePod work, it needs to prioritize certain technologies — artificial intelligence, cloud services and others — that it has typically kept on the back burner. If Apple is now putting more of that tech expertise at the forefront, that could bode well for the company as a whole and how it heads into the future, Farhad writes.

“All Apple has to do is stay competitive — it’s got to invest just enough in the A.I.-driven future to keep its devices compelling,” he says. “There’s no mistake, now, that it’s doing so.”

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