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Apple lowers sales forecasts for HomePod as smart speaker disappoints

Tim Maytom

Apple has reportedly cut some orders with Inventec Corp, one of the manufacturers for its HomePod smart speaker, and lowered sales forecasts, after the device has failed to capture the interest of consumers.

The HomePod went on sale in January following delays, entering an already-busy market that was dominated by Amazon's Echo range. According to AdAge, which cited a person familiar with the matter, the HomePod has struggled to compete, despite initially strong pre-orders.

The HomePod was marketed as a smart speaker, with a focus on the quality of the sound and less attention given to the Siri integration, in the hope that it would differentiate the device from the Amazon Echo and other connected speakers with voice-activated assistants.

However, while the HomePod dominated the US smart speaker market around its release, capturing around a third of all sales according to data from Slice Intelligence, this interest soon faded, even when consumers were able to hear the sound quality in person at Apple Stores.

According to Slice, the HomePod caputred 10 per cent of the smart speaker market during its first 10 weeks of sales, compared to 73 per cent for Amazon's Echo range and 14 per cent for the Google Home. Inventory is reportedly piling up at stores and warehouses, with Apple Store workers saying some locations are selling fewer than 10 HomePods a day.

Missing the crucial holiday sales window may have badly hurt the HomePod's chance to penetrate this market, and at around $349 (£244), it is roughly $200 more expensive than most smart speakers, a serious disincentive for consumers who are comparison-shopping.