HomePod Struggling to Gain Market Share Alongside Cheaper Amazon Echo and Google Home Speakers
Apple's expensive HomePod speaker accounted for just six percent of the U.S. smart speaker installed base through the fourth quarter of 2018, according to research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.
CIRP estimates that the U.S. installed base of smart speakers reached 66 million units last quarter, suggesting that HomePod sales in the country have totaled around 3.96 million units since the speaker became available to order in January 2018. Apple does not disclose exact HomePod sales figures.
By comparison, the Amazon Echo and Google Home accounted for a commanding 70 percent and 24 percent of the installed base respectively as of last quarter, with both products proving to be popular holiday gifts.
At $349, the HomePod is significantly more expensive than the Amazon Echo and Google Home. The small, entry-level Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home Mini models in particular were available for as low as $25 during the holiday season, while the HomePod is only available in one size.
"Amazon and Google both have broad model lineups, ranging from basic to high-end, with even more variants from Amazon. 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," said CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz.
To improve sales, many resellers offered the HomePod for $249 during the holiday season. Even now, the speaker is available for $279.99 at Best Buy, a $70 discount compared to its price on Apple.com.
In fairness, the HomePod also launched two to three years after many of its competitors, and sales remain limited to the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, China, and Hong Kong. But without a steeper price cut, the speaker faces an uphill battle.
In April 2018, well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple was "mulling" a "low-cost version" of the HomePod, potentially due to shipments of the current version being "far below market expectations." A report out of China said the lower-cost HomePod could be priced between $150 and $200 in the United States.
It's unclear if Apple would be willing to release a HomePod speaker with inferior sound quality versus the current model. Last year, a Chinese report said the lower-priced HomePod could actually be a Siri-enabled Beats speaker.
CIRP bases its findings on its survey of 500 U.S. owners of the HomePod, Amazon Echo, and Google Home, surveyed from January 1-11, 2019, who owned one of those speakers as of December 31, 2018.