Apple needs to reconsider its HomePod strategy

“Early sales forecasts suggested that Apple could sell up to 10 million HomePod units this year, but recent supply-chain analysis has drastically lowered those estimates. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, for example, said that Apple may sell only 2 million–2.5 million HomePods over the course of 2018. And Bloomberg reported that despite strong preorder sales, in the weeks since its launch, some Apple Stores have only been selling 10 HomePod speakers a day,” Christina Bonnington writes for Slate. “For comparison, Apple had sold roughly 2.5 million Apple Watches during its first month of sale alone. In 2017, the first year that AirPods were available, Apple sold around 12.5 million.”

“Price is only one factor in the HomePod’s story,” Bonnington writes. “Siri’s limited functionality as a virtual assistant is one large turn-off. Thanks to Amazon’s vast library of third-party Alexa skills, its digital assistant can be used to check your calendar for the day, order a pizza or an Uber, and place orders for household items through Amazon. Both devices can work in conjunction with other smart home products, but Siri’s options are more limited. The HomePod is also heavily reliant on iPhone integration for full functionality, while Google and Amazon’s speakers largely stand on their own. However, given music is the central focus of Apple’s smart speaker, it would seem that Apple’s walled garden approach to music streaming may be the thing most deeply in need of reconsideration.”

“What happens next is up to Apple. It can open up HomePod to integration with third-party streaming music players—and improve Siri integration with those services—or it can keep the HomePod tightly locked into the iTunes and Apple Music ecosystem,” Bonnington writes. “The HomePod needs to embrace today’s leading audio services rather than shut them out, or it’ll never grow beyond a niche product.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: iCal’ed for future use.

HomePod’s price tag is a filter. It skims off the cream and delivers it to Apple.

Bonnington emphasizes Spotify far beyond its importance. Let’s wait to see where Spotify is in 36 months, shall we?

Apple Music has rendered Spotify’s future decidedly dimmer.

The best customers are those who pay. As demonstrated by years of data, form disparate sources, those paying customers are also significantly more likely to be iPhone owners than those who’ve settled for poor iPhone facsimiles. A healthy portion of these coveted customers will leave for Apple’s comprehensive offering which offers better family rates, more music, likely exclusives, and seamless integration across all Apple devices. It’ll even work with crappy Windows PCs and Android phones eventually (not that those are likely to be Spotify’s paying customers, but whatever, some of them will join Apple Music and maybe even graduate to Apple devices because of it).

Spotify could quickly be left with an unprofitable system, with a dwindling music library because they cannot afford to pay music royalties. — MacDailyNews, June 9, 2015

Spotify is a poor man’s Apple Music. The demographics in this race, as ever, greatly favor Apple in the long run. — MacDailyNews, January 3, 2018

You’d have to be stupid to subscribe to Spotify when it has 33% fewer tracks than Apple Music for the same price. Apple Music boasts a catalog of 45 million songs; Spotify has a mere subset of just 30 million. Don’t be stupid. If you’re still subscribing to Spotify, it’s past time for you to cancel it and upgrade to Apple Music. (See also: How to move your Spotify playlists to Apple Music.)MacDailyNews, February 6, 2017

Apple Music hits 40 million paid subscribers milestone – April 4, 2018
Apple Music hits 38 million paid subscribers – March 12, 2018
Apple Music expands student membership pricing to 82 new countries – February 13, 2018
Apple Music poised to knock off Spotify – February 12, 2018
Apple Music was always going to win – February 6, 2018
Apple Music on track to overtake Spotify, become No. 1 streaming service in U.S. this summer – February 4, 2018
Apple Music and Spotify now account for the majority of music consumption in the UK – January 3, 2018
Spotify files for its IPO – January 3, 2018
Spotify hit with $1.6 billion lawsuit from music publisher – January 2, 2018
Apple Music passes Pandora and Spotify in mobile usage – March 29, 2017
Spotify hits 50 million paid subscribers – March 3, 2017
Apple Music surpasses 20 million paid members 17 months after launch – December 6, 2016
Oh ok, Spotify listeners are upgrading to Apple Music – July 19, 2015
Spotify CEO claims to be ‘ok’ with Apple Music – June 9, 2015


  1. MDN… Your take, even if it were assumed to be true, is how a stockholder thinks. It could be that these cream customers are not a cream as you think, or they don’t want to be “delivered” or both.

    The RDF is dissipating…

  2. I love Apple, but any product tied to Siri is a mistake. Siri is the worst performing Apple product ever. Does not work as well as Alexa at all. Two, do not write off Spotify. I have both services and regardless of the catalog size, Spotify’s new music algorithm is vastly superior to finding songs … not even close. Positioning Apple HomePod as an expensive speaker more than a virtual assistant opens it up to severe competition from Sonos and others. I believe the author is right Apple must find a strength here vs. Amazon. That said, Apple is the best company on the planet for finding their way and I am sure they will. Just wish they would fix Siri.

    1. On your last statement , Lets Hope So. They were first , they had a great head start,.. after years they are the worst. No Excuse !
      Siri is horrible…. anything related to AI at Apple is Horrible.
      From spell check, to contextual understanding to speach recognition to digital assistant … and so on…

      The real concerning part is that AI is core to all future products…. And Apple is laging terribly.

      A chain can only be as strong as its weakes link
      They dont fix this…. They will become irrelevant sooner than later.

      Tim and Apple management, hope you are paying Attention and not floating in “know it all ‘ arrogance and Lala land
      And lets hope u give your new hire the chance and freedom to thrive and not feel imprisoned by Apple idiosyncrasies…. which ofcourse will lead to another ‘ bye……. thanks, but no thanks ” Departure.

    1. I think siri is under Craig’s watch now.

      Apple Tv … grrrrrrr…another half backed product with horrible, inconvenient fragmented ui…

      Each app/channal in its isn ui universe… no predictability or consistency … Inefficient.
      No centralization of favored programing and notifications of new content for favore programming. ( constant hunt between apps to try and renember and find what o e has favored )
      Inteface selections require a hawks sight to be distiguishable… ( for starters just look at the ridiculous swipe down menu for info and subs etc….. selected items go from super light grey to dirty white… lol.. for heavens sake why TF… no other color showing contrast exists in Apples minds? …. or the tumbnail selections.. only bigger by like 5% which can not easly be distinguished…. why ??? )

      No predictability between channal ui s…
      hey spple predictiblity is efficiency… are u aware of that ?

      List goes on ….. grrrrrr

      1. In contrast to Amazon video’s channel subscriptions which allow you to have a single index to search all of Amazon’s library and every channel you subscribed, Apple has a long way to go in that department. Also nice that you can download videos to watch offline not only from Amazon Video but from even Apps like Showtime Anywhere on a Fire device. Personally I’ve downloaded few eps of Dexter to watch on my Fire HD 8.

  3. I own a HomePod and I completely agree with this article. I know music was Apple’s highlight but I was expecting to be able to add skills thru a HomePod app much like I do Alexa. Simply not there. I do use it as a speaker for my Appletv and it functions well in that role. I have a better experience with my smart home devices but I had already done setup and fine tuning on my iPad before the HomePod was ever released. If I want to hear an audiobook, I have to download it to my phone and airplay it from the phone to the HomePod. Even the Alarm feature on the HomePod is limited. I’m yet to figure out how to change it to use some other sound than its default – tried telling to play a song but it acted like a dumb speaker and did it anyway. Another thing… I’m a deep sleeper and I need my alarm to be loud. I’ve set the speaker volume to 100% at night – defying Siri’s warning that “That’s pretty loud – are you sure?” And yet, the HomePod has somehome set its volume back to somewhere around 60% maybe when the alarm is playing and I’ve overslept. So on the alarm feature, I’m still using my phone or iPad for even that simple task. I hear ya. I didn’t listen to Apple’s intro of the device. Well I did. But I’m just used to this company releasing little Easter eggs in their products that we didn’t expect. I guess those days are gone or maybe there will be an update after this first and latest that will add features? Or dare I suggest there will be a new hardware version that will have the new features??? I heard and I got what I heard. I’m just used to hearing about the watch or the airpods or the next phone or iPad or Mac and getting it and being far more impressed than I anticipated because it was so much more than they said it was! I’m missing the Wow! with the HomePod. It does the bare minimum but I sure am glad I didn’t throw out my Dots when I ordered the HomePod. (I never even bought an Echo because I don’t do much music and the Dot is just fine as far as a speaker for my use of it for that purpose.)

      1. How many years have you been hoping for this? A workable Siri has been in Timmy’s long pipeline for years.

        There is no evidence that Apple has the talent to make natural language work in English, let alone on the rest of the languages around the planet. In a multilingual, multi-person household, Siri is a POS showing zero learning capability.

        Apple compounded the ineptness of Siri on the Homepod when they removed all the physical controls and connections so that it’s practically useless. If Siri doesn’t work perfectly, then the user wastes time attempting to communicate with dumbass Siri when they could just type in a music query into any music interface quickly.

        For a person with existing audio equipment, or his own audio collection, or someone not particular with audio quality, the Homepod is less than useless — it is another Siri frustration that nobody needs.

  4. By the way – has anybody noticed that the Siri voice has changed after it was changed? Maybe it’s just me but I remember the robot Siri for sure. Then they announced the change and I got a crisp, energetic little cheerleader in all my apple products and quickly went to the Aussie male voice as an escape. I believe it was when I got the HomePod that Siri sounded “all growed up now.” I actually LIKE this new voice and have moved my devices back to the American female. I still call the damn thing a him now and then though.

  5. It’s pretty apparent the HomePod was not designed to be the central device of your smart home. I point to the fact that although it can here you throughout the house, it can only control the lights of the room it’s physically in, very short sighted! Typical way of thinking for the “new Apple”.

    1. That has not been my experience at all. I’ve had Hue lights now for a couple of years I think – steadily adding a bulb here and there so that now practically my whole house has Hue bulbs throughout. I set them up in the Hue app on my phone or IPad and when the Home app came out, everything was already there and set up because the intangible HomeKit was working for me in the background before the Home app came out. So when I got my HomePod, all my rooms and lights were already set up and each was set up for Siri access. Now, I just say turn on all lights and my whole house lights up. Turn off the office turns off that room. It doesn’t matter where my HomePod is – it’s always been in the living room. Furthermore, I can be away from home and use Siri on my phone to turn lights on or off or even adjust the temp on my Ecobee4.

  6. I love my HomePod for what it dos. I hate my HomePod for what it doesn’t do. I have a vast music library in iTunes, but I can’t say “Hey Siri, play Whole Lotta love from my iTunes library.” All I get are apologies from Siri. I don’t need Apple Music and never will. Why won’t Apple allow me to access my iTunes library through a Siri voice command? Sure, I can walk over to my Mac and play the song in iTunes and redirect the sound to my HomePod, but that is a PAIN. Hey, Apple, just let me be free to play my own content!

  7. As usual, it’s hard to say if this is ignorance or malice. Comparing the global headphones market, to the global watch market, to the global speaker market is like wondering why GE marine engines haven’t sold as well as their microwaves.

  8. “HomePod’s price tag is a filter. It skims off the cream and delivers it to Apple.”

    MDN I usually agree somewhat with your takes but this is just stupid. What f’ing cream” It’s a smart speaker with a stupid assistant. Sure the sound quality is good but nowhere near the sound of my JBL studio monitors which cost not much more. I can see Apple wanting the ‘cream’ for the iPhone, iPad, Watch, Mac, etc….. For the speaker though? No, it’s an overpriced OK sounding speaker with a stupid voice controlled assistant (one that only works with a Home Automation platform that can’t seem to get out of it’s own way and is getting it’s ass handed to it from the platform from a bargain shopper’s Xanadu). Until Siri does not suck (which is a long way away apparently) and it can act as a hub for an actual useful smarthome platform HomePod will be an overpriced luxury item.

    1. It’s possible the ‘cream’ in this instance are Apple users that have the funds and will buy any Apple product without really looking into whether it ‘fits’ their usage case or not.

  9. I still don’t understand the target market, except those who don’t own good speakers. We’ve had good speakers in every room attached to Airport Express units for many years. A couple of those speakers are now also tied to BT dongles paired with our Echo Dots. The Dots work great with our Hue lights, Harmony Hubs, and Amazon Fire TV units. And they were $40 each as a pair.

  10. The Home Pod is overpriced, apparently damn near unrepairable (thus a base repair price almost as high as a new unit- another Apple Glue fest), chained to the Apple ecosystem, short n features, burdened with the inferior Siri voice recognition/AI and also inferior Apple HomeKit- which is tied to the web. As a cloud device loss of online access renders it stupid.

    So Apple managed to be last to market with the most expensive, least capable, least repairable, least flexible and most locked in device possible. As a shareholder and someone deeply invested in the Apple ecosystem I hate to say this, but this thing is a dud.

    Whoever signed off on the built in limitations of this device should be taken to the Corporate woodshed, given a cardboard box to gather their things and escorted off the campus. The “vision thing” has bitten Apple in the arse again.

    That speaker should be platform agnostic as to content, able to function as a Bluetooth device unchained to Apple’s DRM content, should be able to use a Mac on the LAN as a server for content, should be repairable for far less than a minimum of $275, should cost at least $100 less and should sound much better. In the Apple Store it sounds like a cheap boom box, maybe better in a home with less hard surfaces (or not) and a smaller space.

  11. One obvious reason that it will well underperform Airpods and Apple Watch is that Homepod is NOT a mobile device. It’s plugged into a wall and definitely not something you’re going to move around much, let alone take with you somewhere. Apple’s bread and butter is mobile products from iPhones to iPads to laptops and accessories, not speaker-trucks. Young people especially are not interested in home-only products. Once they get a UE Boom-type cordless Homepod 2 for half the price they’ll sell 5x as many.

  12. Basically the HomePod is a dificult-to-use WiFi version of the Apple HiFi. And selling about as well. Remember that old chestnut?

    You’d think they’d have come farther than that in 12 years.

    1. That depends on how much weight is placed on “price” by potential consumers in contrast to the other limitations perceived when comparing the HomePod to its current competition.

  13. I like the potential of the Home Pod, but I’m overwhelmed by the price and underwhelmed by the functionality. I wanted to control my home with this thing, but it appears the emphasis is more on sound than cool functions. I see this as another missed opportunity much like Apple TV. Please bring back Steve from heaven and oust Tim once and for all.

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