Apple’s HomePod is a Failure

Posted on February 6, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, Music + Videos, Smart Home with 80 Comments

Apple’s products and services tend to sell better in the home market than elsewhere in the world. But the HomePod is an exception, having captured a paltry 6 percent of the U.S. smart speaker market in 2018.

That’s according to a new report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), which I can’t find anywhere online, not even on CIRP’s website. (Apparently, you have to sign-up with the firm to receive the reports via email.) So I’ll have to go off of what others are saying of this report.

Which is this: There are approximately 66 million smart speakers in U.S. homes now, and only 3.96 million of them are Apple HomePods. Meanwhile, Amazon apparently dominates this market, by usage share, with a 70 percent share. And Google is second with 24 percent.

CIRP attributes HomePod’s failure solely to its price.

“Amazon and Google both have broad model lineups, ranging from basic to high-end, with even more variants from Amazon,” CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz writes in the report. “Apple, of course, has only its premium-priced HomePod, and likely won’t gain significant share until it offers an entry-level product closer to Echo Dot and Home mini.”

Yes, Apple would gain share with a lower-priced speaker. But doing such a thing is not in Apple’s DNA, and it ignores the fact that Apple’s digital personal assistant is much less capable than those from Amazon and Google. Apple’s customers have never shown restraint when it comes to spending money. So the HomePod is most likely just a bad product, one that is too tightly locked-in to the Apple ecosystem, and not just overpriced.

Still, Amazon and Google do benefit in an indirect way from the choice and pricing of their own smart speakers: Many of their customers have multiple smart speakers in their home, helping to improve their leads. “About one-third of both Amazon Echo and Google Home users have multiple units,” CIRP confirms.

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