While it may be too soon to emphatically categorize Apple’s HomePod as a flop — especially with a more affordable version reportedly in the works — early indications suggest that Apple’s smart speaker hasn’t made much of an impact in the market place. Just this month, word surfaced that Apple slashed its internal sales forecasts for the device, with Bloomberg adding that some Apple retail stores have been seeing HomePod inventory pile up.
Pouring a bit of salt on the wound, a new research note from Deutsche Bank (via Business Insider) pulls no punches when detailing what many are labeling as a huge missed opportunity for Apple in the smart speaker space.
“We believe that Apple had a real opportunity to become a major player in the smart home with its introduction of the HomePod smart speaker,” the note reads in part. “However, poor reviews and a significant fall-off in demand post the launch suggest the company has missed the mark.”
While HomePod sales are certainly not through the roof, the device itself generated overwhelmingly positive reviews. Though a stunted version of Siri was a common critique, the HomePod was said to deliver an acoustic experience unrivaled in its price range. But as impressive as the HomePod acoustics are, it appears that most consumers aren’t willing to spend upwards of $200 more for a better sounding smart speaker when rival devices at a more affordable price point provide “good enough” sound quality and a more versatile intelligent assistant.
As companies like Google and Amazon seek to make inroads into the smart home category via their own respective smart speakers, Deutsche Bank believes Apple with the HomePod made a huge mistake.
“Apple decided to stick with its premium pricing strategy, introducing the HomePod at $349,” the report adds. “In our view, this essentially limits the product’s market appeal to Apple fans who will pay anything for a new Apple device and to consumers with high disposable income.”
Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see if Apple does, in fact, release a more wallet-friendly version of the HomePod down the line.