Apple’s HomePod incredible, but at $350, it’s too expensive compared to an Amazon Echo or Google Home.Image: lili sams/mashableBy Raymond Wong2018-04-12 14:15:22 UTC
Apple’s HomePod smart speaker is not off to a good start.
Despite receiving high praise for its incredible sound from a cadre of tech reviewers (Mashable included), HomePod sales have been really disappointing, Bloomberg reports. HomePod sales are apparently so bad Apple Stores have a stockpile of unsold inventory and have recently cut orders.
According to the report, market research firm Slice Intelligence estimates HomePod only makes up about four percent of the smart speaker market. Meanwhile, Amazon’s Echo has reportedly gobbled up 73 percent and Google Home holds about 14 percent of the smart speaker market.
Some Apple Stores that Bloomberg checked with have reportedly sold as few as 10 HomePods in an entire day.
It doesn’t take much to understand why HomePod sales have been poor.
It doesn’t take much to understand why HomePod sales have been poor: The HomePod is expensive. Apple sells the smart speaker for $350, which is significantly more than Amazon’s family of Echo devices ranging from the $50 Echo Dot to the $230 Echo Show. With the exception of $400 Google Home Max, Google’s two other smart speaker devices, the $50 Home Mini and $130 Home, also cost significantly less than the Apple HomePod.
Then there’s the matter of compatibility. Apple designed HomePod to work seamlessly with Apple Music. If you’re a Spotify, or Pandora, or another user, you won’t get the deep Siri voice controls you get using Apple’s streaming music service. Plus, you need to own an iOS device to even get set up.
And let’s not forget how inferior Siri is compared to Alexa or the Google Assistant. Siri on HomePod can do your basic smart home things like control your music and HomeKit-compatible smart home devices and check the weather, but it’s quickly being left behind as rival AI assistants continue to get smarter and learn more skills every day.
Furthermore, notable features like AirPlay 2, which lets users link up two HomePods together, have been delayed indefinitely. The next-gen streaming protocol is present in the latest iOS 11.4 beta, so it’s possible it’s coming soon.
Siri needs to get smarter if Apple’s smart speakers are ever compete with Alexa and Google Home.Image: lili sams/mashableHowever, weak HomePod demand doesn’t mean Apple’s already knocked out of the smart speaker game. As was the case with the Apple Watch, the company will likely keep innovating on HomePod until it becomes a hit.
There’s a rumor a cheaper mini HomePod is in the works. Apple has also hired Google’s top AI executive, John Giannandrea, to lead its AI strategy, which could bring Siri up to speed with its chief competitors.
Amazon and Google have a big lead in the smart speaker market, and Apple’s got a lot of ground to make up. Surely, a company with the vast amount of resources Apple has can catch up.