The HomePod went on sale earlier this year, and for $349 potential owners could have Apple’s first foray into the smart speaker market.
And while the speaker was praised for its sound quality, its lackluster support for the “smart” part of the smart speaker left many wanting more. That may have been born out in sales, too, with rumors that Apple has been working to cut back orders for the smart speaker, which was subsequently corroborated by another report from a Chinese outlet.
Now, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has weighed in and is echoing the same sentiment. Kuo says that HomePod shipments “could be far below market expectations”.
“It’s been six years since Apple introduced Siri to the market, which was way ahead of the firm’s major competitors. The massive population of iOS and macOS users is also conducive to the promotion of the voice assistant function. 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.”
Kuo believes that part of the problem is indeed the high price, which could “undermine demand despite excellent sound quality”. Meanwhile, Siri is another factor, which Kuo believes is an “uninspiring user experience” when compared to the competition of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
As a result of all that, Kuo believes that Apple is indeed working on a lower-priced HomePod. Kuo says it will be a “low-cost version”. Unfortunately, no additional details were provided.
Kuo also believes that Apple needs to make drastic improvements to Siri, too, which is a foregone conclusion at this point. The company’s Worldwide Developers Conference is happening at the beginning of June and one has to wonder if Apple will put a big focus on Siri. And will we see a cheaper HomePod option in time for the holidays this year? Maybe we should all start crossing our fingers.[via MacRumors]