There may be some news on Apple’s HomePod smart speaker business at the company’s press event tonight. Ahead of that, Bloomberg has reported that the company has hired Afrooz Family to “lead software efforts… aiming to turn the product into a bigger hit”.
He’s no stranger: Family worked at Apple on audio technology between 2012 and 2018, before leaving the company to co-found smart speaker startup Syng with fellow ex-Appler Christopher Stringer. Syng launched its first device, the Cell Alpha, in May, but Family had already left the company in February according to his LinkedIn profile. “Starting a new project in Venice, reach out if you enjoy making cool things,” is his ‘About’ section – presumably that’s Venice, LA.
According to research firm Strategy Analytics, Apple is currently in fifth place in the global smart speaker market: shipping 3.8m HomePods in Q2 this year, behind Alibaba (5m), Baidu (6.2m), Google (6.9m) and Amazon (10.6m). However, aided by a shift in focus from its original, more expensive HomePod to the cheaper HomePod Mini, Apple’s shipments grew the most year-on-year: up by 178% and more than doubling its market share.