The HomePod launched earlier this year with a price tag of $349, putting it at a pretty competitive price point to speakers that Apple feels are comparable in sound quality — and not so much due to its baked-in smarts.
Some rumors have suggested that the HomePod hasn’t been too successful for Apple, and that the company may need to make some changes if it wants the HomePod lineup to be successful down the road. But then we last heard that the device may have shipped upwards of 600,000 units in the first quarter of this year, and Apple is squarely in the fourth place spot within the burgeoning smart speaker market with just one device to choose from.
But that hasn’t stopped rumors from growing that Apple is working on a cheaper smart speaker option, which could launch at some point in the near future. Now, by way of information allegedly gathered from Apple’s supply chain, the new, less expensive model may have one other important difference: Beats branding.
The information suggests Apple may be outfitting the new, cheaper option with the brand of the audio company it acquired several years ago. The Beats brand is still going strong these days, so it’s certainly a possibility.
As noted by 9to5Mac, however, it is also possible that the supply chain source is getting devices mixed up. Apple has already confirmed that upcoming Beats-branded products will feature AirPlay 2 support, so it is possible that’s what we’re hearing about now. Of course, it’s also possible that Apple has been planning on a smart speaker with Beats branding for quite some time now, and this may be one of the new AirPlay 2-equipped devices coming down the pipe.
The question is — what functionality will a Beats-branded speaker come with? The rumor suggests Apple will be pricing it at $199, so it’s definitely likely it might not have the same sound quality as the standard HomePod. Or, Apple may keep leaning into audio quality and keep Siri out of this new speaker — making it not a smart speaker at all, but just another in-home listening device.
The rumor mill is likely going to keep churning out tidbits about an upcoming cheaper HomePod option, but that might just be a name that’s being attached to any speaker Apple may be working on ahead of its official debut. If Apple is going to use the Beats branding for these types of speakers, it seems likely that it will fit very firmly in a specific slot of speaker quality, and Siri may not be baked in.
What do you think? Would you buy a Beats-branded speaker without Siri for $199?[via 9to5Mac; Loveios; Sina]