Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) compete head-to-head in a number of areas, including tablets, streaming music and video services, set-top TV streamers and digital media sales.
With Apple about to take on the Amazon Echo with HomePod, it looks as though Amazon is going to fight back with a new smart speaker with enhanced audio performance.
The company is also poised to go after an Apple success story. Amazon Anytime is a new mobile messaging service that has been teased as a competitor for Apple’s popular Messages app.
Amazon Echo Is Reportedly Getting Audio Upgrade to Take on HomePod
AAPL finally announced its entry to take on the Amazon Echo line of smart speakers at WWDC 2017 in June. The HomePod will be more expensive than the Echo — $349 versus $179 — but Apple is positioning its Siri-powered smart speaker as being a far superior audio solution. It’s packed with drivers, equipped with technology that supports multi-speaker setups, optimizes the audio based on the room it’s in and HomePod is covered with mesh fabric to look like a piece of premium audio equipment.
Just as Amazon snuck into the smart home by building Alexa into a smart speaker, Apple is hoping to sneak into Amazon’s turf by building Siri into a smart home audio solution that replaces premium wireless speakers like those from Sonos and usurps the Amazon Echo.
In comparison, the current Amazon Echo looks pedestrian, at least as a speaker. However, a report says that Amazon is working on a flagship Echo speaker to compete directly with the HomePod. According to Engadget — whose source has seen a working unit — the new Amazon Echo speaker will be shorter with rounded edges, covered with cloth-like material and features more drivers. It’s also claimed to include improved near-field microphone technology.
In other words, it’s a new smart speaker that has been designed specifically to counter the threat of AAPL’s HomePod.
Amazon Anytime to Take on Apple Messages?
Messaging apps are among the most popular for smartphone users and Messages is one of Apple’s most successful apps. It’s a big part of making iOS “sticky” and keeping iPhone users on AAPL’s own services as much as possible. The company has been rolling out features like an app store within messages and support for animations. When iOS 11 rolls out this fall, it will include support for new features, including the ability to send and receive money using Apple Pay.
AAPL’s primary competition to Messages have been social network-based options like Facebook, Inc’s (NASDAQ:FB) Facebook Messenger and cross-platform messaging options like WhatsApp. It looks like AAPL is going to have to deal with Amazon here as well, though, with news that a cross-platform messaging service called Amazon Anytime is being floated.
Amazon is reportedly surveying customers about a new Amazon Anytime messaging app, that’s in development. It would work on the desktop, and on Android and iOS mobile devices. It will include encrypted communications, including financial information, which is important because as an Amazon service, it’s a given you’ll be able to shop online from Amazon Anytime.
Other features Amazon is mentioning include free voice and video calling, gaming, group chats, filters, GIFs, sticker, emojis, support for business integration (for customer service interactions) and the ability to chat using names without needing to know phone numbers.
In other words, Amazon Anytime seems like Apple Messages, Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Skype, Facebook Messenger and other messaging apps, all rolled into one.
The headache for AAPL will be that Amazon will be promoting its cross-platform capabilities, and all-in-one support for features like free voice and video calls that are separate services on iOS. There will undoubtedly be support on the Amazon Echo as well, luring the many iPhone owners who have already bought an Amazon smart speaker.
There’s no timeframe announcement for either Amazon Anytime or the new Amazon Echo speaker. However, with AAPL set to release its new iPhone 8, iOS 11 and the HomePod this fall, it wouldn’t be surprising if Amazon released or officially announced at least one of its competing products to rain on Apple’s parade.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.