The early HomePod reviews are in and we have a clear winner. Subjectivity wins. Wait. What? I thought the reviews said HomePod was the best sound you could get for $350. What happened? Subjectivity happens.
Remember the iPhone? Sure you do. It was all the rage for about a decade but it’s success will be Apple’s undoing. Just wait. Well, so say the nattering nabobs of negativity, subjective thinkers all. iPhone’s early criticisms were insufficient to curb user enthusiasm. The same thing happened to Apple Watch and yet here we are.
Apple’s latest technology gadget might be the most subjective device yet because what sounds good to you may not sound good to me and I’m afflicted with boomer ears. Among others, boomer David Pogue says HomePod sounds great. Then he did a test of his own with friends and family and HomePod fared poorly. What’s going on?
Subjectivity. It’s all the rage these days.
subjectivity | ˌsəbˌjekˈtivədē |
noun (plural subjectivities)
the quality of being based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions: he is the first to acknowledge the subjectivity of memories | in the writing of history there is a degree of subjectivity | [count noun] : the curators make room for individual or collective subjectivities.
• the quality of existing in someone’s mind rather than the external world: the subjectivity of human perception.
That last sentence is the one that stuck in my head. That explains why some say President Trump is the best American leader ever while others say he’s the worst president ever.
So it is with HomePod. I stopped by the nearest Apple Store over the weekend to see what HomePod sounds like. To my aging boomer ears HomePod sounds wonderful; surprisingly, even in a crowded Apple Store. Does HomePod sound better than my Samsung television? Yes. Is it better than the pair of Sonos speakers in the family room? Yes. Maybe. I think. Our family living room isn’t cluttered with 120 Apple customers and employees so the comparison is, well, subjective.
After all, Apple bestowed honor upon early reviewers by giving them a HomePod to try for a week before its actual release, so the bestowee may have been psychologically tampered with merely by being selected. My mom’s chocolate cherry cake tastes better than anything at Kroger’s, Whole Foods, or Publix here in Atlanta because, 1) mom baked it, 2) mom gave it away free (to me), 3) deserts at grocery stores are overpriced and stale.
See? Subjectivity is in the wild.
What will happen with HomePod is exactly what happened with Apple Watch. Early reviewers will have opinions all over the map. Consumer Reports already says HomePod is worse than Sonos One and Google Home Max (note that nobody else in the Applesphere or technology world agreed with that assessment). HomePod customers will buy it, like it, and evangelize it. Apple will make the next version better and Siri will get smarter and more useful.
Ignore all the noise about HomePod being available only within Apple’s ecosystem. Remember, the iPod only ran on the Mac back in 2001. How did that turn out for Apple and a few hundred million customers? Apple’s customer base back then was about 20-million. Today the Apple ecosystem is about 1-billion.
Subjectivity notwithstanding, HomePod will be around awhile.