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We previouslyÂ reported that Apple moved to slash HomePod orders by as much as 50% as demand for its Siri-powered smart speaker appeared to be falling short of even the most cautiously optimistic estimates.Â
And while we wouldnâ€™t expect much to have changed between early-April and now, a report this morning from DigiTimesÂ essentiallyÂ corroborates those prior developments, confirming that Apple has slashed orders for its $349 smart-speaker from around 500,000 units per month down to 200,000 â€” representing a reduction of 60%.
Such a drastic reduction entails that over the course of the next year, Apple could sell just 2.4 million HomePods, which Business Insider notes would place the Siri-speaker’s outlook at nearly the same level as Amazonâ€™s debut Echo speaker from 2015, which also sold 2.4 million units in its first year.
And while Amazon went on to sell nearly 250% more Echos (5.8 million) in 2016, Appleâ€™s HomePod sales forecast is still dismal considering both the maturity of the smart speaker market and Cupertinoâ€™s cushy brand recognition.
Current HomePod sales estimates are still in line with predictions spearheaded by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who in a research note obtained by Business Insider suggested that several factors are to blame for Appleâ€™s trouble selling as many HomePods as it might’ve hoped.
â€œWe attribute potentially lackluster sales to: (1) an uninspiring user experience with the voice assistant function, Siri, compared to competitors; and (2) a high sales price, which could undermine demand despite excellent sound quality.â€
Indeed, despite its superior audio quality and impressive engineering, including its integration of seven powerful tweeters and dedicated subwoofer along with advanced Apple-exclusive technologies, HomePod has for the large part remained an â€œuninspiringâ€ option amid a rising sea of competition â€” partly because of its hefty $349 price tag.
For thoseÂ actually in the market for a smart speaker with similar capabilities, Amazonâ€™s second-generation Echo can be had for just $99, making it a bargain for those who want to reap the benefits of a voice-assistant powered speaker without all the added bells and whistles.
Other variables plaguing HomePodâ€™s success include its isolated and inherently lackluster Siri implementation. While Cupertinoâ€™s voice assistant platform is known to be lagging behind the likes of Amazonâ€™s Alexa and Googleâ€™s Assistant in terms of sheer capabilities, HomePod owners have also griped about the platformâ€™s â€˜exclusivity’. For example, if Apple truly wanted to make HomePod a universally accessible device, rather than a $349 iPhone accessory, the company might have considered allowing Siri more flexibility with responding to commands.Â
Controlling a Spotify playlist, as opposed to just Apple Music, would have been a sure-fire way to do that, CultofMac notes.
Still, despite its clear shortcomings and seemingly uncertain fiscal outlook, Appleâ€™s HomePod has the potential to improve substantially with time. Not only has the companyâ€™s recent AI hiring, investments and physical expansion bolstered the likelihood of an impending boost to Siriâ€™s performance, but Apple is also rumored to be working on a smaller, and consequentially less-expensive, HomePod offering, which could appeal to a broader segment of the market.