The key word in my excerpt there is “imperceptible.” I assert that the voice interface is different because the device doesn’t exist — it’s abstracted away, screenless, hands-free, etc. From the article:
“Don’t forget, User Experience has a different connotation when we’re talking voice, as opposed to visual. Apple’s peerless industrial design was a critical competitive advantage that helped accelerate adoption of its graphical user interface, mobile UX, and even its physical devices themselves. Yet, that’s a non-factor when the visual experience is abstracted-away. Narrowly defined, that User Experience is now predicated by the quality of a virtual assistant.”
Furthermore, I acknowledged Apple’s brand and their ability to warrant a premium priced product:
“it’s hard for consumers to justify a $2,000 ante. That’s the minumim buy-in to accumulate enough Apple devices that you get to enjoy a pleasing voice experience — and Apple’s premium demographics will pay to be wow-ed.”
In sum, don’t hone-in on the pricetag argument in isolation. The important takeaway is that the pricetag becomes more prohibitive as the physical device becomes less perceptible.
I’m bullish on the opportunity for Apple Watch if they pursue the right strategy. As discussed in the article, Apple Watch and AirPods are critical cogs to maintain the relevance of screens (and the lion-share of revenue derived from hardware), but with the Series 2 release, Watch has regressed away from the seamless, contextual coordination required to fulfill that promise.
The article is an analysis of HomePod’s opportunity — advantages, disadvantages, and resulting strategy. It’s not an assertion that Apple will fail with HomePod (or otherwise).
What I do assert is that the voice interface is a different ballgame, one which Apple has never played before. The strategy therein is not in Apple’s playbook. (In contrast, it is precisely Google’s modus operandi.) Although that doesn’t preclude Apple from identifying and pursuing it, it requires that they change their products, their business model, and perhaps their culture. Those are difficult asks — not impossible, just improbable.