New Report Shows Apple Desperately Needs a HomePod mini

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The smart speaker market is steadily growing, but it seems to be leaving Apple’s HomePod behind. That’s according to a new report by research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP).

Here’s what the data shows about the smart speaker market — and what it suggests Apple could do to gain ground.

The Smart Speaker Market

The smart speaker market in the United States has grown by nearly six million units in the June 2019 quarter. That’s up from 70 million in the March quarter and up from 50 million in Q2 2018.

That means, according to CIRP’s data, the U.S. smart speaker market has grown by 9 percent in the second quarter (Apple’s third quarter) and by 50 percent year-over-year.

  • But despite the growth, Apple’s HomePod has retained around a 5 percent share of the total market in the U.S.
  • For comparison’s sake, Amazon Echo takes up about 70 percent and Google Home accounts for the remaining 25 percent of the market.

Largely, that seems to be because the majority of people who own a smart speaker have less expensive models like the Amazon Echo Dot and the Google Home mini.

The sub-$50 price point actually accounts for about half of the total smart speaker market.

Apple’s entry into the sphere, HomePod, is priced at $300. Originally, it was $350 but received a rare price cut. But HomePod’s high price point seems to be a barrier to many consumers.

As far as methodology, the CIRP report is based on a survey of 500 U.S. smart speaker owners. It was carried out between July 1 and July 10.

Is a HomePod mini Coming?

To sum the data up, Apple’s only smart speaker is likely too expensive for the majority of consumers. While it makes sense for Apple to corner the premium market, HomePod doesn’t have much of a chance to gain any solid ground in a market dominated by devices much cheaper.

A much lower-cost HomePod, released as an alternative and stablemate to a HomePod 2, seems like it could be a smart move on Apple’s part.

There have been a handful of rumors over the past couple of years suggesting that Apple is working on a lower-cost “HomePod mini.” So far, those rumors haven’t materialized and there haven’t been any reports or leaks suggesting that a HomePod mini is coming anytime soon.

At the same time, HomePod was first debuted back at WWDC ’17 and launched in early 2018. In other words, it’s a bit overdue for some kind of refresh.

It isn’t clear what a lower-cost HomePod could entail, but it would make sense for Apple to reduce the sound quality, size and some of the premium features in order to achieve a much lower price point — something between $50 and $150.

While we haven’t seen any recent rumors suggesting a release date, an announcement at a keynote this September or October seems likely.

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