Apple’s shiny new HomePod was met with a decidedly tepid response when it finally launched last month. Whether the high price, unfinished features, or furniture-destroying base were to blame we will never know, but a rumor from Taiwan suggests the HomePod will get a second chance later this year.
A report from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News suggests that Apple will launch a new and cheaper HomePod later this year, alongside a handful of other cheap products like an $800 MacBook Air. The new HomePod will cost somewhere between $150 and $200, and likely target people who want a smaller speaker, possibly with fewer features.
The report doesn’t go into specifics, other than suggesting that the new HomePod will be cheaper. But to hit that price point, Apple will definitely have to compromise on some of the hardware packed inside the first-gen HomePod. The complicated speaker array is relatively expensive, as is the microphone set-up and processor necessary to make Siri work.
One possibility is that the cheaper HomePod will be more of a pure speaker than smart speaker. Most of the HomePod reviews have praised sound quality but not the voice-control features, which are limited compared to the Google Home or Amazon Echo. There’s a chance that Apple could decide to double-down on its strengths, and simply launch a good speaker with limited (if any) smart functionality.
The other possibility is that Apple will go completely the other way, and make something more like the Google Home that isn’t a room-filling speaker, but works much better as a smart home hub. Whichever way the company decides to go, something will have to be left out in order to bring the HomePod’s price down from $349 to $200 or $150.
The report also detailed a new MacBook Air, a 9.7-inch iPad for $259, and a 6.1-inch iPhone for $649. Those rumors suggest that lackluster iPhone X and HomePod sales might have Apple rethinking its high-priced strategy in order to keep shipping volume, which is nothing but good news for consumers.