Since the Siri-in-a-can rumors started, I had always assumed it would be fancy microphones, and a fancy speaker. I did not really think it would include a display. Phil Schiller has claimed that Apple feels a display is essential (which is wrong) but I always took that as criticism of existing screenless solutions. I believe Jason Snell has also mentioned that as a possibility on Upgrade several times, but I can’t turn up a link to anything specific at the moment.
You walk in a room, you say, “Hey Siri, give me directions to the Pavilions on Beverly Drive and Olympic Boulevard” Then, magically, all your Apple devices would light up with a list of many Pavilions grocery stores, and the fancy speaker would intone, “Tap on the one you want.” Certainly solves Phil’s skepticism about screenless devices.
The rumor about the Siri-in-a-can that started circulating about it having a screen never really seemed like a good fit, but it’s coming from, Ming-Chi Kuo, someone well regarded for having sources in Apple’s supply chain.
This morning Mark Gurman definitively said it won’t have a screen, again. So … these two things are at odds.
I wonder if there are two models being manufacturered instead of a single model? One is more like Amazon’s Echo, or Google Home, and the other is more like Amazon’s Echo Show. That would make some sense, because one of the things I have been skeptical of is the pricing for a device that has an embedded screen. It would be very difficult to saturate a house with these devices if they’re in the $250-$300 range. A less expensive model, without a screen, would certain help. Particularly if people are skeptical of the utility of Siri-in-a-can. Not that anyone would ever have any skepticism about the utility of Siri.
I have no data to back up this idea. Apple is no stranger to releasing products that don’t scale well to every room of your house – like the Apple TV. It does, however, seem like a good explanation for the dueling rumors.