Apple is well known for following trends and trying to come up with better, more polished products than other companies’ market pioneers, but even by those standards, the HomePod may have been released a little too late to give Amazon’s extensive (and mature) Echo family a run for its money.
Formally unveiled back in June 2017, but made available to early adopters just a couple of months ago, the Siri-controlled smart speaker appeared to generate the typical initial excitement around any new iDevice. Only said enthusiasm evaporated almost instantaneously, as potential customers learned the non-audio-playing capabilities of the $349 gadget were somewhat limited compared to significantly cheaper Echos and Google Homes.
Internal sales forecasts and orders to manufacturing partners reportedly dropped by “late March”, with a measly 10 percent market share captured during the first 10 weeks of shipments, compared to a towering 73 percent for Amazon’s Echo lineup, and a somewhat surprisingly substantial 14 percent slice of the pie for Google Home smart speakers.
Things haven’t been looking up either, with a massive demand decline noticed by analysts just three weeks into the HomePod’s commercial run, and inventory currently “piling up” in most Apple Stores, as some locations are merely able to push a few units out the door every day. Of course, the next holiday season should be much kinder to the stumbling device, as well as all its major rivals.
7 million HomePods in total are projected to sell this year, with 2019 figures possibly surging to 11 mil, which would still be a blip on Amazon’s radar. That’s because market watchers expect Echo sales to reach a colossal 29 million units in 2018, and 39 million next year. Google should easily beat Apple too, with 2018 Home shipments estimated at 18 million, and 32 million units expected to leave the search giant’s warehouses in 2019. It sounds like a lower price point might be the HomePod’s only shot.