Will HomePod become Apple's new ace?
Jimi loTJimi loT2019-01-02

According to the latest research by market research institute Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) shows, HomePod occupies 6% of the US smart speaker market by June 30. As Amazon and Google, which are located in the first and second, respectively have 70% and 24% market share. During the five-month release period, Apple sells 3 million HomePods. From March to June, HomePod's market share has doubled.


                  


6% market share is "small but significant"

CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz says that HomePod's 6% market share is "small but significant". Although not as good as Amazon and Google, the "late arrival" and "high price" Homepod still splits some markets of Amazon Echo and Google Home.
On February 9, HomePod was first sold in the US, UK and Australia. On June 18th, it expanded to markets in Canada, France and Germany. In contrast, Echo and Google Home had already entered the smart speaker market in 2014 and 2016. The Echo Standard Edition is priced at $99.99, and other models range from $49.99 to $229.99. Google Home is also priced at $49, $129, and $399 depending on size. HomePod is priced at $349. Cheaper prices tend to stimulate impulsive spending. According to CIRP reports, 35% of Echo users and 31% of Google Home users have more than one smart speaker.
At first, HomePod was thought to have a big impact on the market. According to data provided by Slice Intelligence to Bloomberg, in the last week of January, HomePod's scheduled orders accounted for 3% of the total US smart speakers sales in the same period. But when HomePod went on sale, sales were not optimistic. In late March, Apple lowered its sales forecast and cut some orders from the supplier Inventec Corps.
According to foreign media BGR reports, there is news that Apple will release a low-priced version of HomePod at a price of around $150. The CIRP report also points out that the biggest problem with HomePod is that the price is too high, far beyond other competing products. Lowitz says that in order to seize more smart speakers market share, Apple may release "more competitive" products.
 
Will the HomePod win?
Echo and Google Home are equipped with "better use" voice assistants - Alexa, Google Assistant, which are used to control smart home and work together with third-party devices. In contrast, Siri is not as good as these two voice assistants in the eyes of consumers, and HomePod is also slightly weak. Therefore, there is a voice that if Apple wants to strengthen its competitiveness in the field of smart speakers, it should focus on the function of Siri instead of focusing on improving the sound quality of the speakers.
In fact, Apple is also constantly improving the functionality of HomePod. After updating iOS12, users can call the other party directly by HomePod, and it can read the user's address book, and dial directly through Siri. In addition to making calls, the "Multi-Timer" is also a feature that HomePod will introduce. Users can run multiple timers simultaneously through a HomePod and can always ask the remaining time via Siri in HomePod. In terms of organizational structure, Apple is also paying more and more attention to artificial intelligence and machine learning. Apple recently established a new artificial intelligence machine learning team. The Siri team is handed over to former GoogleAI director John Giannandrea.
But analyst Neil Cybart made a different voice on Above Avalon. NeilCybart argues that the value of the Echo and GoogleHome lies in the intelligent voice assistant, while HomePod, like iPod and AirPods, is part of Apple's music hardware ambitions. The popularity of iPod and AirPods is that the former provides good music quality and the latter provides a good user experience. The combination of software and hardware allows HomePod to provide the best music experience based on the surrounding environment, and thus the value of HomePod is to provide sound rather than intelligence. Apple has positioned HomePod as a high-end speaker, while the voice assistant Siri has some "smart features."
Given that HomePod has just been on sale for a few months, it's hard to tell if HomePod can continue to grab Echo and Google Home's market share or be squeezed out by the two giants in the smart speaker market. Apple's "high price" and "late arrival" have limited HomePod to a certain extent, but industry observers also believe that Apple's loyal fan base and the high quality of HomePod enable Apple to take a slice of the smart speaker market. CIRP remains as optimistic as analyst Gene Munster from Loup Ventures which expects HomePod will reach 7 million units worldwide by the end of this year.

Not every Apple product started very well. Apple Watch also faced challenges when it was first launched, but it is now widely regarded as one of the best performing smart watches. Analysts say that we should have more positive expectations for the next performance of HomePod.

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