Apple slashes HomePod orders as sales 'tank'

Olive Hawkins
April 12, 2018

Internal sales forecasts and orders to manufacturing partners reportedly dropped by "late March", with a measly 10 percent market share captured during the first 10 weeks of shipments, compared to a towering 73 percent for Amazon's Echo lineup, and a somewhat surprisingly substantial 14 percent slice of the pie for Google Home smart speakers. Slice said that the speaker was buoyed to an initial 10 percent share of smart speaker sales by strong initial preorders, but within three weeks slipped to around 4 percent - a change that has resulted in per-store sales of fewer than 10 HomePods per day at some Apple retail locations, claims the report.

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Siri on HomePod can answer basic questions, play back and interact with audio content (currently limited to Apple services), control HomeKit devices, set timers and more.

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Apple unveiled the $349 HomePod at WWDC last June, calling the device a "breakthrough home speaker" that would grant its Siri virtual assistant a permanent place in users' homes. Slice reports that during its pre-order weekend, the HomePod grabbed 72% of smart speaker revenue. Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster expects sales of 7 million units this year and 11 million next year; although, that's significantly less than his expectations for Amazon and Google. The HomePod is said to go on sale in December during the holiday shopping season but unfortunately delayed on previous year. Google could sell 18 million Google Homes in 2018 and 32 million next year. Not every Apple product was a hit out of the gate.

The HomePod is part of Apple's growing ambitions in music hardware, which will include upgraded AirPods this year and new over-ear, studio-quality headphones in 2019.

While reviews of HomePod's audio quality varied from positive to middling given its high price point, there was near-universal agreement that the speaker's software side was troubled. The product was supposed to be released in December just in time for the holidays, but Apple missed the release and delayed the product. Siri remains a major weakness but the poaching of Google's artificial intelligence chief earlier this month could make a difference. That's the main takeaway from a new report about the company's smart speaker.

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