What Does HomePod Delay Mean for Apple

What Does HomePod Delay Mean for Apple

While the HomePod delay until 2018 will more than likely have little to no short-term effect on Apple, its long-term effect may be more significant.

At WWDC in June, Apple unveiled it’s new smart speaker, HomePod. They emphasized how good the sound was by putting the device up against a Sonos Play 3 and an Amazon Echo. While no one except some limited press was able to hear this comparison, there was a general consensus that HomePod sounded great compared to the competition. Apple said HomePod would be available in December. This week we learned the device will be delayed until 2018.

While the delay isn’t huge it is somewhat disappointing. The holidays are the perfect time for a device like this to be available. While some people may not go out and buy it on their own, it’s a great present to give. Everybody loves music and Apple is emphasizing the device as a music first smart speaker with Siri. Sonos has been the leader in multi-room home audio but lacked the smart assistant until it recently announced the Sonos One with Alexa and Google Assistant coming in 2018. Amazon’s Echo line is the clear smart speaker leader with multiple options as low as $50. Google added the Home Mini and Max to its lineup this year bringing an affordable option and an option for premium sound.

Holiday 2018 seems like consumers have more options than ever to dip their toes into the world of smart speakers and Apple will not be there. While Apple is used to sitting things out and waiting for their time, it may be too late for some people. The Amazon Echo has been around since 2015 and with the release of the Echo Show, Echo Plus, and the revamped 2017 version, Amazon customers will most likely expand their Echo collections and gain new customers along the way. Many Alexa customers are already locked into the device as they’ve bought accessories to work with it. Light bulbs, surveillance systems, door locks and more can all be controlled by any Echo device and unless they offer HomeKit support, HomePod will not be able to support these accessories.

One thing HomePod has going for it is Apple Music. Apple’s streaming music service has a total of 32 million subscribers as of October 2017. The real question is how many of those users do not own a smart speaker and are willing to pay $350 for a HomePod? More than likely, Apple has an idea and is the reason why they are promoting the music quality as their top marketing point. Not to mention by using “Pod” in their device name it harkens back to when iPods ruled music playback. While I don’t see HomePod being as popular, it’s safe to say Apple would like to play on iPod nostalgia and bring back their music player dominance.

I do fear that the lack of diversity in their HomePod lineup will limit Apple. Offering only one speaker for $350 is a very high price for anyone getting started in the smart speaker world. For $50 you can jump into the Amazon Echo or Google Home world and both have a more solidified ecosystem. We also still don’t know what the capabilities of HomePod really are. We know the basics; it plays Apple Music and has Siri built in but there surely has to be more. For many people, the wait and high price point will be enough for them to choose Amazon or Google this holiday. For audiophiles, Sonos will be the best choice as it offers many different music service integrations and has many different speaker options. It’s tough seeing where HomePod fits in.

One thing HomePod has going for it is Apple Music. Apple’s streaming music service has a total of 32 million subscribers as of October 2017. The real question is how many of those users do not own a smart speaker and are willing to pay $350 for a HomePod? More than likely, Apple has an idea and is the reason why they are promoting the music quality as their top marketing point. Not to mention by using the “Pod” in their device name it harkens back to when iPods ruled music playback. While I don’t see HomePod being as popular, it’s safe to say Apple would like to play on iPod nostalgia and bring back their music player dominance.

I do fear that the lack of diversity in their HomePod lineup will limit Apple. Offering only one speaker for $350 is a very high price for anyone getting started in the smart speaker world. For $50 you can jump into the Amazon Echo or Google Home world and both have a more solidified ecosystem. We also still don’t know what the capabilities of HomePod really are. We know the basics; it plays Apple Music and has Siri built in but there surely has to be more. For many people, the wait and high price point will be enough for them to choose Amazon or Google this holiday. For audiophiles, Sonos will be the best choice as it offers many different music service integrations and has many different speaker options. It’s tough seeing where HomePod fits in.

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