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Lackluster HomePod sales may force Apple to release a cheaper model

Published Apr 13th, 2018 10:02PM EDT
HomePod Flop
Image: Apple

Despite overwhelmingly positive reviews, Apple’s HomePod doesn’t seem to be resonating with consumers. Following up on a pair of reports claiming that HomePod sales have been lackluster, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo on Friday issued a new research note (via MacRumors) echoing the notion that the HomePod, to be blunt, simply isn’t selling well.

While some of the earlier and more optimistic projections suggested that HomePod sales for 2018 might be as high as 10 million units, Kuo anticipates that Apple, by the time 2018 draws to a close, may see HomePod sales fall somewhere in the 2 million range. While it’s still far too early to call the HomePod a flop, Apple’s smart speaker certainly hasn’t gotten off to a strong start in the marketplace.

Part of the problem is that the HomePod is simply an expensive smart speaker. Priced at $349, it’s significantly pricier than competing devices from the likes of Google and Amazon. And though the HomePod delivers unparalleled sound quality, it’s perhaps possible that everyday users simply aren’t interested in paying a premium for the HomePod when they find the audio quality on a device like the Amazon Echo to be ‘good enough.’

Additionally, it’s no secret that Siri’s capabilities on the HomePod aren’t even close to matching what rival intelligent assistants can pull off. Not only that, the version of Siri that ships with the HomePod is stunted relative to the Siri experience on the iPhone.

Kuo’s note reads in part:

However, we note that for most users worldwide, Siri is not a must-have function, and Apple has not yet become a leading brand in the AI voice assistant market. We also note that HomePod has not added support for new languages in the device since launch, suggesting Apple is facing challenges in AI/voice assistant development spanning the globe; this will cap the shipments momentum of HomePod.

In light of poor sales, Kuo corroborates previous reports claiming that Apple is mulling over a more affordable HomePod device. While details remain hazy, previous reports have claimed that Apple later this year may release a HomePod somewhere in the $150 range, a price point that would instantly make the device far more competitive with rival products. It remains unclear, though, what a more affordable HomePod model would bring to the table in terms of features. Either way, if Apple is serious about competing in the smart speaker market, it’s starting to become apparent that the company will have to do something to shake things up lest it fall too far behind.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.