Apple is gearing up to launch a new version of its HomePod smart speaker, according to reliable supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple currently sells the $99 HomePod mini as the only model. The original HomePod with much more impressive sound was discontinued last year after a price cut from $349 to $299.
New HomePod rumors
According to Kuo, Apple is targeting Q4 of this year or Q1 of next year for launching the next HomePod model. Presumably, this will be a larger model than the HomePod mini, but one with features that help bring the cost down from $300 like its predecessor.
The other alternative, although hopefully less likely, is a new version of the HomePod mini. Apple has released new colors of the HomePod mini, but a second generation doesn’t seem necessary yet.
Same HomePod design
That’s only speculation, however, as Kuo only described the new HomePod by saying “there may not be much innovation in hardware design.” Of course, that could be a good thing considering the hardware design isn’t a major complaint, unless you want Bluetooth or line-out functionality.
kuo went on to say that while he views smart speakers as “undoubtedly one of the essential elements of the home ecosystem,” he doesn’t think Apple has realized how to be successful in the smart speaker domain.
smart speaker market
That’s largely because Apple insists on premium audio performance, which comes with higher price tags, and that’s before you consider Apple’s margins to make a product worth its time. Amazon Echo and Google Nest products rival even the HomePod mini in price (if not features), but we don’t expect Apple to release a HomePod version below the HomePod mini threshold.
Since the original HomePod introduction, Sonos has beefed up its connected speaker products with voice control features as well. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant first brought voice control for music and smart features to Sonos, and now the company has developed its own in-house smart assistant for voice controlling music.
Kuo has also recently predicted that Apple is developing a new version of the Apple TV set-top box with the goal of lowering the cost structure.
Kuo’s latest prediction is music to our ears. We were big fans of the original HomePod despite its more premium price to Amazon and Google offerings. HomePod mini was sorely needed as an option, but it shouldn’t be the only smart speaker from Apple. Besides, mini compared to what?
Q4 2022 and Q1 2023 aren’t that far away, and we’re eager to learn more about this new HomePod model in development. Larger HomePods are great for the living room, whereas smaller versions are more appropriate throughout the house. Hopefully, Apple has found a way to get closer to the original HomePod in terms of quality, but without the hefty price tag that limited its appeal to the masses.
Or, you know, maybe Apple could just make fewer of the premium HomePods. AirPods Max headphones are a wonderful addition to the AirPods earbud market, and the adoption of the latter is light-years ahead of the former. It’s also worth noting that Apple introduced its $550 headphones just before discontinuing its $300 speaker. By our measure, HomePod was a vastly better value than AirPods Max (even if they’re also great).
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