Comparisons to Amazon’s Echo abounded when Apple introduced its HomePod smart speaker on Monday. But some Twitter users were also reminded of another, lesser-known product: Whyd, a smart speaker made by a Paris-based startup that debuted last summer on Kickstarter.
One user even suggested that Apple “ripped off” Whyd, while others apparently thought the Whyd team may have joined Apple. “After the Apple announcement, our team has been overwhelmed by customers and people pointing out similarities and asking us if Whyd had been bought by Apple and was behind the HomePod speaker,” Whyd co-founder Gilles Poupardin told Variety. “The answer is no.”
Poupardin stopped short of accusing Apple of plagiarism, but agreed that there are some obvious similarities between the two products. Both feature microphones for voice input and added smarts, but set themselves apart from products like the Amazon Echo with a focus on sound quality. Both are cylinders with rounded ends, covered with a cloth mesh. Both use a circular touch surface on top that allows for pausing songs with a tap.
|The touch interface surface of both speakers. Above: Apple. Below: Whyd. Photos courtesy of Apple,
There are also some clear differences. Apple’s HomePod is less than seven inches tall, whereas Whyd’s speaker measures 11.5 inches. The startup’s speaker is also slightly more elliptical than Apple’s model, and its LEDs are hidden behind the cloth mesh, whereas Apple has integrated them in the touch surface of the its speaker.
Still, if one would place all existing smart and Wi-Fi-connected speakers in a row, including models from Amazon, Google, Sonos, Polk, and Bang & Olufsen, Apple’s and Whyd’s devices would clearly stand out as having the most closely aligned design.
So what is Whyd going to do about it? Nothing, said Poupardin. “We welcome Apple and the HomePod.” And instead of trying to fight a goliath, Whyd wants to spend its energy on its own products. “We’re building an amazing community of music lovers and we’re staying focused on building beautiful, high-quality, and simple products for them,” he said.
Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment.