Apple might be preparing to launch a cheaper version of its HomePod smart speaker. The HomePod was introduced in June last year at Apple’s annual worldwide developers conference to challenge Amazon and Google’s offerings. However, the smart speaker went on sale only in February early this year.
Though HomePod is the direct challenger to Amazon’s Echo and Google Home-based smartphone speakers, a steep price tag of $349 and limited support for Siri, has put off consumers from buying the Apple-made speaker. According to Strategy Analytics, the HomePod accounted for just 6 percent of the global smart speaker market during the first quarter of 2018. While Amazon’s Echo devices were selling like hot cakes with a share of 81.8 percent.
Now, Apple might be gearing up for its second competitor in the form of a cheaper device. In order to make it resonate more with customers, Apple is also planning to launch it under Beats brand. According to a new rumor from Loveios, the cheaper version of the HomePod is on the way but it might cost a bit more than $150. The launch of a cheaper HomePod offering can be seen as an effort to boost the sales of the Siri-enabled speaker.
The report is based on supply chain sources in Taiwan and the rumor should be taken with a grain of salt. However, it does make sense for Apple to launch a cheaper HomePod if it does plan to take on Echo and Google Home speakers. For instance, Amazon’s Echo starts at $50 and goes all the way up to $229. The Echo comes with much more functionalities compared to HomePod and is way cheaper compared to $349 retail price of Apple’s offering.
The publication further notes that the cheaper version might start at $199 and it asserts that the device will be sold under the Beats Umbrella. Since it bought Beats in 2014 for a record $3 billion, the Cupertino-based giant has kept the company largely as an independent organization. The Beats brand has a lot of following among consumers and is known for music and audio equipment.
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A cheaper version of HomePod in Beats styling will definitely resonate with existing Beats customers and especially those seeking for a good audio gear. However, Apple will need to give Siri more functionality to really take on Alexa-powered Echo and Google Assistant-based Home speakers. Can Apple make Siri learn more about you and answer time-saving questions without invading your privacy, that is a different question altogether.