If you'd never heard of a "smart speaker" before last week, it's understandable. So far, smart speakers have mostly been the domain of early adopters, who aren't afraid to risk a little cash on a new gadget.
But now that Apple has unveiled its smart speaker offering, the HomePod, mainstream consumers are much more likely to pay attention.
Smart speakers are home digital assistants, using voice-recognition technology to deliver internet content in an interactive, hands-free way.
Users might ask their smart speaker for a weather report while doing the dishes, or tell it to stream kids' music while trying to wrangle a toddler.
Of course, most new smartphones can already do those things, since they have built-in voice-recognition software like Apple's Siri or Google Assistant.
But Apple, Google, Amazon and even Microsoft are still betting on smart speakers, and their motivations go well beyond simply selling more gadgets.
For all four companies, a smart speaker in your home serves as a platform to make money in other ways.
"Apple will want to sell you Apple Music as a service, and other services likely are to come," said Bob O'Donnell, president of consulting company TECHnalysis Research. (Apple is touting its HomePod as a powerful hi-fi speaker above all.)
"Amazon obviously wants to do commerce-based services, and Google wants to do search and other kinds of things, potentially, where they can deliver advertising and other kinds of services," said O'Donnell.