Apple’s HomePod is struggling to find its place in a crowded market

Two months after its launch Apple’s debut smart speaker, the HomePod, is reportedly struggling to make headway against the dominance of Amazon and Google. 

The news comes as part of a report from Bloomberg, which cites a number of pieces of evidence for the HomePod’s struggles. First is that inventory is piling up in Apple stores, according to their workers, and only small numbers are being sold on a daily basis. Second is that Apple lowered sales forecasts and cut its orders with its hardware manufacturing partner Inventec. Finally, the report cites market research that suggests that just 10% of smart speakers sold since its release have been HomePods.

The sentiments expressed in the piece tally with our own use of the speaker. In our review we said that its great sound couldn’t make up for the fact that it simply couldn’t do a whole lot. We thought it was something for the Apple fan that’s already wholly bought into the ecosystem, rather than the average consumer.

The HomePod is expensive for a smart speaker. Its £319 price point is far more expensive than both the Amazon Echo (£90) and Google Home (£129), and yet Siri is much less capable than both other voice assistants, with nowhere near the same amount of functionality. While Alexa is happily ordering you pizza and reading out recipes, Siri struggles to set more than one timer at a time.

What’s the competition?

Critics have responded to this allegation by saying that the HomePod isn’t trying to compete with smart speakers, it’s trying to compete with multi-room speakers. But even here there are problems. The HomePod is designed for an Apple-only world, where everyone is using Apple Music played from their iOS devices. It’s not designed for a modern household, where people are likely to have a mixture of Android and Apple phones, and use a variety of different music streaming services.

Despite these problems, Bloomberg’s report is upbeat about the HomePod’s future chances. It launched without functionality that Apple has promised will be added later, and we imagine there’ll be plenty more functionality added besides, and the HomePod is yet to experience a holiday shopping season, which should give it another sales boost.

Apple is clearly positioning the smart speaker as a long-term project, but at the moment no one is sure whether this is a bet that’s going to pay off.

What do you think about the HomePod’s chances? Let us know @TrustedReviews

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