China Times Echoes Poor HomePod Sales and Rumors About Possible Lower-Priced Version
A new supply chain report out of Taiwan echoes a recent Bloomberg News story suggesting that HomePod sales have been lackluster, but as with most channel checks, it can be difficult to draw accurate conclusions.
Namely, the China Times claims that Apple has reduced its HomePod shipment forecast to 200,000 units or less per month in the second quarter, down from around 500,000 units per month in the first quarter, due to lower-than-expected sales. Apple is also said to revise down its shipment forecast for all of 2018.
HomePod sales may very well be lackluster, as a relatively niche product with an expensive $349 price tag, and given a handful of early reviews that criticized Siri's capabilities, but Apple CEO Tim Cook has previously warned against trying to interpret single data points from the supply chain.
Cook on Apple's first quarter earnings call in 2013:
I suggest it's good to question the accuracy of any kind of rumor about build plans. Even if a particular data point were factual, it would be impossible to interpret that data point as to what it meant to our business. The supply chain is very complex and we have multiple sources for things. Yields can vary, supplier performance can vary. There is an inordinate long list of things that can make any single data point not a great proxy for what is going on.
For example, the China Times report only mentions Inventec and a few smaller suppliers affected by the cuts, despite reports that Foxconn would begin assembling HomePods alongside Inventec at some point in 2018. It's possible that Inventec has simply lost a portion of its orders as Apple diversifies its production.
A few months have passed since the HomePod launched, too, so early adopters who were eagerly waiting to purchase the speaker have likely already done so. Just like an iPhone, sales can be expected to be strongest within the first few weeks of availability, followed by a gradual decline over time. Production cuts are to be expected.
Moreover, the HomePod has yet to even launch outside of the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, so sales remain limited geographically. Apple said the speaker will launch in France and Germany later this spring.
If sales are in fact poor, one way that Apple could boost interest is by offering a more affordable HomePod, and today's report echoes rumors about a possible lower-priced version. However, the report predicts that Apple wouldn't launch a revised or cheaper HomePod until at least the fourth quarter of this year.
We'll likely never know exactly how well the HomePod is selling, as Apple said it will group the speaker under its "Other Products" category in its quarterly earnings reports, alongside the Apple Watch, Apple TV, AirPods, Beats, iPod, and more. But we'll be listening to the May 1 earnings call for any potential hints.