HomePod was supposed to be Apple’s answer to ‘Google Home’ and Amazon’s ‘Echo’ smart speakers, but sales are plumbing deeper than the company predicted mostly due to the high price and short range of features.
When the smart HomePod rolled out on January 2018, it went chest to chest in a market that is being dominated by Google, Amazon and for some part Sonos as well.
Apple advertised its product and praised it for having the best sound in its respective market, though it seems that wasn’t enough on its own to convince consumers to get it for $349. In early March the Cupertino giant lowered its sales prediction and reduced the number of products that Inventec – one of the partners that put parts of the HomePod together – was ordered to make. After that, it seemed that the smart speaker with ‘the best sound of them all’ was back on track. There were numerous pre-orders and according to Slice Intelligence, the device got one third of the market it was targeting by the last week of January.
But until the shelves were filled with the new HomePod, things took a turn for the worse. 10 weeks later, HomePod accounted only for 10% of the market, compared with Google’s 14% for ‘Google Home’ and Echo’s 73%. (All stats are based on Slice Intelligence’s 20,118 sample size for January through March 2018).
Now in Apple’s defence, losing the Christmas period was a contributory factor to the disappointing sales. That’s why experts predict that sales will rise by next Christmas, at which time they might even peak.
It’s not such a surprise for Apple to see one of its products failing to sweep the world off of its feet, as was promised. Think of the last Apple Watch and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Thankfully for every party in that case, that series of watches is now recognized as the world’s top smart watch. This however, was the company’s first attempt to put its speaker in the centre of a new ecosystem of smart home aimed gadgets, for homes that don’t necessarily own an iPhone. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
People soon discovered that the much anticipated HomePod was too dependent on the iPhone and did not stand good on its own as a digital assistant. And as if that wasn’t enough, the first few who got the device in their hands, reported issues when trying to connect two speakers in order to get stereo sound or to listen to music in multiple rooms simultaneously. In addition, there have been plenty other reports, according to which all wooden surfaces get scratched by HomePods. Apple promised to fix the first issue later in the year, while for the latter one, new materials and perhaps enhanced design is a must, which means a solution could take a year or more to reach the market.
Despite all the downsides, we expect the product to be vastly improved. It’s worth mentioning however, that Google and Amazon are not expected to sit and wait either. In other words, the competition will be cruel. And we like that.