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Apple in 2023 – what the HECK is going on?

Apple has caught us all unaware over the past few days, but what’s really behind it all?

Apple in 2023 - the new HomePod

Another day…

Apple, I think it is fair to say, over this past week, has caught us all with our trousers down!

Yesterday, I wrote about the slew of Macs that were released on Tuesday. If your head has been under a stone this past few days, and missed the news, well, Apple has gone Mac mad. We were given both 14-inch, and 16-inch MacBook Pro’s with M2 Max, and M2 Pro Apple silicon. Not only that, but the Mac mini was also shown some love, and it had has been given the M2, and M2 Pro processors.

Bear in mind, it is not as simple as that. There are numerous configurations for each of these Macs. You can choose extra CPU cores, different amount of memory, and, of course, storage options as well.

When you take all that in to consideration, over the MacBooks & Mac minis, there must be well over fifteen or twenty options available. That represents a whole lot of inventory…and Apple silicon.

They didn’t stop there

As much as we were all shocked, bearing in mind this is only January, Apple did not stop there. Just one day later, we were gifted more new product – this time, it was the HomePod. We had been expecting a new HomePod this year, just not so early on.

Before looking at what, I believe, is going on behind the scenes, let’s take a quick look at the new HomePod.

HomePod V2

It has been over two years, since the big, original HomePod was discontinued.

Having learned from their earlier mistakes with the original HomePod, Apple has priced this speaker aggressively. One of the failings with the first HomePod was price. This time around, they have launched it at £299. So, they have got the price right, but what else have they done with HomePod for its re-launch?

Siri

Clearly, this speaker is designed to be at the heart of Apple’s Home Kit, and supports Thread. Obviously, the A8 chip that powered the first HomePod is gone, in favour of the S7. This is the same chip you’ll find in Apple Watch Series 7.

It will be responsible for room sensing and the audio computational work that is going on under the hood. Siri should work a little better, and it will help with the integration of Apple Music.

Speakers

The USP of HomePod has always been the sound – it’s audio. The spec sheet on this new HomePod provides us with some interesting reading, though.

The four microphones that it has on board, means that users should be able to use Siri from any angle, with a greater level of accuracy. Interestingly, the original HomePod had six microphones…

The tweeters in any speaker are responsible for the highs, and adding clarity. The 2023 HomePod only has five tweeters, compared to the seven of the original version.

Will these cut-backs affect the sound that this HomePod will be able to produce? Time will tell, but I wonder if the real reason was to save cost, and hit that £299 price. Has quality been compromised for economics? Time will tell, I guess.

The new bits

Temperature, and humidity sensing is coming to HomePod, but this will also be available on HomePod mini soon too, via an update.

Unlike the first HomePod, or for that matter, the Studio Display, the power cord is now removable, which will make things easier if you need to travel with it, or store it.

One main difference you’ll notice is a larger, backlit interface. Not only that, it is fractionally shorter and a little lighter that the original as well. This speaker comes equipped with the U1 chip, which enables one of the best features of HomePod – Handoff.

And, it’s available immediately, which leads me to my main point…

What are we missing?

So, this week, we have all these new products, and even a twenty-minute promo video to promote the MacBooks.

Yesterday, when writing about the MacBooks, I mentioned that it seems Apple had caught up with their supply issues. Macs in basic configs, and HomePod are all available immediately, which is great news, but I think there may be something else going on here.

Was there supposed to be a November event? It all seems to add up.

Maybe it’s not that Apple have caught up with supply, rather these products have been building up since last November. For whatever reason, the event was scrubbed, which gave them a chance to build up inventory.

What next

Last night, I was recording this week’s Minus Sixteen podcast with co-host Alex. During the show, I began to wonder, why has Apple released all this product in two days?

What is now left for the rest of the year? Apart from some minor tweaks to iPads, or the Mac Studio, there is now only three products that I can think of that will be debuted this year. We’ll get the new iPhone in the fall, the AR/VR Headset, and the Apple silicon Mac Pro.

I have written about how all available hands are on deck currently at Apple HQ, in getting the AR/VR Headset to market. The Mac Pro has been in development for ages now, so finally releasing it is not too resource-heavy.

Oddly, maybe this will actually turn out to be a quiet year for Apple. I know in the light of the past week, that sounds mad, but think about it…

The new Macs were released via a press release, signalling that they were only upgrades. The HomePod, too, came out via a press release. I’m now thinking that the spring event will be a premium event for just the headset, and the Mac Pro will be held back to WWDC.

This year could be economically challenging. Couple that to the fact, resources are spread thin at Cupertino right now due to the headset, and we may see very little else coming out from Apple for the remainder of 2023.

Wrapping up

As much as this past week has been exciting, I am convinced all this action is the result of something that happened at the end of last year, that we will never know about.

Can all Apples supply issues suddenly have been sorted in a few weeks? Something does not quite add up, but, none-the-less, these are exciting times.

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