Apple is working on a "giant iPad" to surpass Amazon's Echo Show at home

Cupertino, December 22, 2021

It is fair to say that Apple's home strategy has been difficult to establish, especially when viewed in contrast to its sharp focus on the iPhone. However, Apple's efforts with Apple TV, HomePod and HomeKit show that it is a market that the company clearly wants to be in and that it still seems to be actively working on.

As any Apple fan knows, the company is rarely the first to enter new markets. Instead, Apple waits until it manages to fix things, and then pulls the punch heard all over the world. I've seen this countless times with iPhone, iPad, Apple Pay and Apple Watch.

Of course, not every Apple entry is a home run. After all, there is also HomePod, Apple TV and its now defunct AirPort router line.

Also, it's probably no coincidence that most of Apple's pedestrian product tests were for home. This is not the original HomePod or Apple TV bad products themselves; they were just niche products that never attracted much due to their high prices and limited scope.

Clearly, Apple failed to read the camera when it came to products like the HomePod, but let it not be said that Apple is not a company that learns from its mistakes. HomePod mini was a significant correction of the course, and by all indications, the smaller, more affordable speaker sells like hot cakes - so much so that Apple recently expanded it into more colors to match your home decor.

No matter how great the HomePod mini is, it's still just a part of a larger home ecosystem that lacks a key component - a true "home hub".

So far, Apple has been content to have its HomeKit environment driven primarily by Siri and the Home application on the iPhone and iPad. Of course, Apple is in a unique position in this regard, as it already has a vibrant hardware platform, unlike competitors such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

Many would argue, however, that Amazon and Google are still eating the HomeKit lunch when it comes to home automation. Not only does it boast a significantly wider range of compatible devices, but both companies also produce true smart home hubs that provide a central point of access and control for the whole family.

While some people are happy to put an iPad in this role - even an older model can work great for this - it's not exactly the same as a device that was specifically designed for this purpose.

"A huge iPad for the home"

In his latest issue Catch newsletter, of Bloomberg Mark Gurman suggests it's time for Apple to accept the program and launch a dedicated smart home hub, and he has reason to believe that the company is working on something deep in its research and development labs that would actually equate to "a giant iPad for Home." "

While this is obviously much easier on paper than in the engineering lab, turning the iPad into a home device won't be as difficult as inventing the original iPhone. Apple already has most of the components made.

Mark Gurman

Apple's goal in this regard, Gurman suggests, would be to create a device that would be as powerful as a current iPad, but larger and more specifically designed to meet the needs of a center console for the whole family to enjoy.

While some of Gurman's information seems speculative, he imagines a 15-inch iPad that would be "slightly thicker to fit more powerful speakers" and features a "landscape-oriented" camera.

Insert a rear-facing power plug and a wall mount, and you have Apple's opinion on the Echo Show.

Mark Gurman

To achieve this, Apple should also address the software layer, because although the Home application is not bad, it is fair to say that it is not suitable for home hub use, as well as user interfaces on rival devices.

The theory here is that Apple could create some sort of "Home mode" to optimize the device for this type of use, but otherwise it would not diminish the iPadOS user experience. It would actually be a UI layer running over the standard iPadOS. This would give Apple's home center a major advantage over its rivals, as you'll still have the entire App Store ecosystem behind you, and it would probably include a state-of-the-art camera system and a Series A processor.

In fact, Gurman suggests that the product could still "double as a regular iPad and laptop replacement, which you can take anywhere."

The biggest catch of all this is that Apple may well value this product out of reach of most of the market. Since Apple probably won't compromise on quality and features any more than it does with Apple TV, it's likely that it could be priced in four digits.

Echo Show 15 costs $ 250. A 12-inch iPad Pro starts at $ 1,100. Imagine the price of a 15-inch version.

Mark Gurman

To be fair, even third-party HomeKit devices are often priced lower than Amazon's Alexa-powered accessories. Historically, this was due to the higher price required to license and add the required hardware encryption chips from Apple.

About four years ago, Apple opened its doors to add HomeKit support through firmware updates, but that still hasn't led to a race to the bottom of the price range as it has in the world of Alexa-compatible accessories.

Of course, Apple never refrains from charging premium prices, and in fact, it usually wears this on its sleeve. To some extent, you get what you pay for here, and Apple would rather sell smaller quantities of a quality product than worry about trying to take over the entire market. After all, just like HomeKit, an iPad-based Smart Home Hub will be an accessory for those who have already invested heavily in the Apple ecosystem in the first place.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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