It initially appeared that Apple’s HomePod would shake up the voice-activated speaker market. The device was available for pre-order this past January and managed at the time to capture one-third of the smart speaker market. Those numbers took a turn for the worse by the time the device hit stores. The HomePods snagged only ten percent of the smart speaker market in their first ten weeks on sale. By the end March, their share was reduced to only 4%.
Apple revealed the HomePods at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) last June. The company particularly promoted that HomePods has supposedly superior audio quality than anything currently available on the market. Buyers have nevertheless been turned off by the lack of access to third-party apps, Siri’s limitations on the HomePods, and the steep $349 price tag. Siri is able to answer basic questions, interact with audio content and set timers, but she is unable to perform other simple functions like access a user’s calendar.
Apple has also failed to keep a few of its promises. Apple initially tempted consumers with the ability to sync two units in order to produce “stereo” sound. This feature is still unavailable due to synchronization issues.
The HomePods’ audio quality has not been an enticing enough feature for potential buyers. Slice principal analyst Ken Cassar noted, “Even when people had the ability to hear these things, it still didn’t give Apple another spike.” Rumor has it that Apple may be working on a less expensive and smaller version of their HomePods to help increase sales. It also appears that Apple may be hiring a number of employees to help improve Siri.
Apple’s HomePod is able to access over 45 million songs through iTunes as well as other sources such as Beats 1 Live Radio and Apple Podcasts. It is compatible with an iPhone 5S or later, iPad Pro, iPad 5th generation, iPad Air or later, iPad Mini 2 or later, or an iPod touch 6th gen running iOS 11.2.5 or later. It includes a high-excursion woofer with custom amplifier, seven horn-loaded tweeters, and other features to pump up the audio. They are available for $349 USD in white and space gray, and can be covered by a two-year Apple Plan for an additional $39 USD.