One from RedShark to reactivate this site a bit. How has it been February since I last posted here? Crivens…
It seems almost satirical now, but earlier this year Facebook was in the advanced stages of launching its own brand of smart speaker. Two units, a large one with a massive 15.6in touchscreen dubbed Portal at around the $499 mark, and a smaller speaker-only one at a cheaper price point (think Amazon Echo Show and Amazon Echo for a rough analogy) were all cued up for the big unveil at its F8 developer conference.
However, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the revelation of the shadow profiles that the company keeps on everyone whether they use its platform or not, and with the roll out of the European Union’s GDPR legislation highlighting the use that many big organisations make of data, it decided to at least delay the announcement. Even the most habitual of Facebook users might have looked askance at the idea of a speaker that is always on sitting in their house and feeding further information back into the organisation’s huge data processing operation.
Which is where the Apple HomePod comes in. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, said in an MSNBC interview in March that: “The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer—if our customer was our product. We’ve elected not to do that.”
Now, this is no attempt to elevate Cupertino to sainthood. Apple is a corporation and a trillion dollar one at that, and you don’t get to that position without knowing how to pull on the levers of capitalism and pull on them hard. But the company has a different approach to privacy to the other tech giants, and the way its HomePod works illustrates it nicely.