This isn’t the first time it’s been suggested or reported, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone either, but the Apple HomePod appears to be a failure. The smart speaker from Apple has been positioned to take on similar smart speaker options such as the Google Home and Amazon Echo series, but it hasn’t quite done too well at that. A report today by Digitimes suggests that Apple may be cutting its orders for HomePod production by more than half, from 5,00,000 units per month to about 2,00,000.
Analysts had earlier reported that demand for the Apple HomePod, which launched in February this year, was far lower than expected. In its first year, the Apple HomePod was initially expected to sell 10 million units, but estimates were revised to just 2 million after initial reports of poor reception for the device. Perhaps some of it can be blamed on the fact that the HomePod has had a strange product cycle.
The HomePod was initially announced in June 2017 at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), but what was showcased then was only a prototype. The final device finally went up for pre-order only in January 2018, at which point a lot of the initial buzz had long died down, and competitor products were already well established in the market. The Amazon Echo speaker was initially launched in 2014 and has been available in India since late 2017, while the Google Home was launched globally in late 2016 and in India earlier this month.
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The HomePod also suffers a bit as a result of its product positioning and features. As is the case with smart speakers, the HomePod is backed by the Siri voice-enabled AI assistant, the same as on a wide variety of iOS devices. The positioning as a premium speaker rather than a smart one is one of the reasons for its lack of success, as is the common belief that Siri isn’t quite as capable as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. As such, users have taken to the Google Home and Amazon Echo series more as smart AI-assisted speakers. With all of that in mind, perhaps the news that the HomePod has had its orders reduced isn’t very surprising at all.