Positioning case closed: HomePod costs more, but does less. Late start. Once again, Apple’s offering is dead in the water.
It’s not that simple.
Understanding HomePod’s place in the world, what it actually does and for whom, requires more consideration than the lapidary Costs More, Does Less.
a través de More HomePod Trouble: Positioning – Monday Note
I vividly recall a Saturday morning meeting in Cupertino during the bad days of 1985: Steve Jobs was gone; Mac sales were weak; the kommentariat saw inevitable failure because Apple’s new personal computer wasn’t “standard”, which resulted in a lack of support from “serious developers” of business software. Company marketeers were on their heels, looking for a counter-narrative.
A venerable Valley story doctor was brought to the patient’s bedside and, in short order, offered a simple remedy: Position the Mac as a Graphics Based Business System (GBBS). The Business System part was adman puffery meant to project gravitas, but the reference to graphics made unarguable sense: The Mac’s Graphical User Interface (GUI) was clearly a distinguishing factor at the time.
Everyone in the room loved the idea. Rather than take on the whole market, Apple would define and dominate a niche. As the Valley marketing sage put it (quoting Julius Caesar), better to be the chief of a small village in the Alps than second-in-command in Rome.
Thanks to Jobs’ vision and powers of seduction, a couple of “serious developers”, Adobe and Aldus, helped transform the GBBS air guitar into a reality. Adobe contributed the PostScript software engine for the LaserWriter’s breakthrough typography and graphics. Aldus came up with the PageMaker program that made exemplary use of the Mac + LaserWriter combo. Aldus Chairman Paul Brainerd coined the term Desktop Publishing(DTP), a phrase that replaced the GBBS straw man and remains to this day. The Mac became #1 in the DTP village.