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Despite earlier reports, initial HomePod sales seem to be doing well. But Apple may have a plan to edge into another segment of the smart speaker market, according to one analyst, who also forecasted other potential Apple products for the year.
The HomePod is a premium device among smart speakers, and in an effort to compete with rivals already on the market, Apple debut ship a lower-end HomePod this fall, according to analyst Jun Zhang of Rosenblatt Securities. The device could fall into the $150 to $200 range, Zhang wrote in an investor memo distributed to clients Friday.
â€œLooking at the success of Amazon Echo products we believe demand could exceed 10 million units this calendar year,â€ Zhang wrote. Apple is predicted to ship about 6 million HomePod units this year.
The analyst didnâ€™t elaborate on what features a lower-end HomePod could sport, but a retail price $200 to $150 less than the current HomePodâ€™s $349 could be an appealing factor to many consumers.
Releasing a lower-priced device for the entry-level market seems like a strategy thatâ€™s already working well for Appleâ€™s competitors. Much of the success of Amazonâ€™s Echo lineup, for example, can be attributed to the low-cost Echo Dot â€” which retails for anywhere from $40 to $50, but sacrifices built-in sound quality.
Of course, with HomePodâ€™s innate focus on excellent audio quality, itâ€™s unclear which features Apple could compromise in order to offer a lower-cost device. The company has taken to marketing HomePod as a music-focused platform, with its built-in audio technology and its array of high-quality speakers.
iPhone SE 2, Apple Pencil 2, Red iPhone 8
Zhang also made other predictions Friday on what Appleâ€™s 2018 product lineup could look like.
Lining up with previous rumors, Zhang believes that Apple could unveil a second-generation iPhone SE in the first half of the year. Rumors of the so-called iPhone SE 2 have been spreading across the Apple blogosphere since last August.
Zhang also supports the idea that Apple could launch at least one iPad Pro model in 2018 with a built-in TrueDepth Camera and Face ID biometrics. That’s a rumor corroborated by other market watchers, including well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities.
And, in an unusual twist, the Rosenblatt Securities analyst predicted a new generation of Apple Pencil that could be supported by the rumored 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus. Historically, Apple has only launched styli for its iPad tablet lineup. But, with a device thatâ€™s closer in form to the Galaxy Note series, a stylus could make sense â€” whether included or sold separately.
Other than possible iPhone support, Zhang didn’t mention any other details about the possible 2018 Apple Pencil.
He also suggested that a (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 8 Plus could also launch this year, with an estimate of about 3 million shipments. The analyst added that a red iPhone X is unlikely, due to the fact that its metal frame is “too challenging to paint.â€
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]