March 13 brought a shocking announcement that Apple has discontinued the original HomePod. Launched in 2018, this is among the best smart speakers that I’ve used, and it hurts to see it added to the list of redundant Apple products.
This comes when competing lower-priced speakers – Amazon Echo and Google Nest – have gained increasing popularity. So it’s interesting to consider the implications and ramifications of this move.
Why was the HomePod discontinued, and is it truly the end for this device? What has Apple got in store next? And how does the HomePod mini launched in 2020 fit into the scheme of things? Well, I’ve got a few thoughts. Let’s delve right in.
Why is Apple evicting the HomePod?
Well, it’s just the nature of technology, especially Apple, that products keep coming and going. However, what’s remarkable about the HomePod case is that Apple rarely discontinues a product without announcing a replacement for it. So what could be the reason for this?
At the time, the only replacement for the flagship smart speaker is the HomePod mini that was launched in 2020. However, an upgraded HomePod may be on the way, and production might have been delayed due to the ongoing pandemic.
We might likely hear of what’s to come in an upcoming Apple event soon.
The HomePod was Apple’s competitor for the Amazon Echo and Google Nest smart speakers. However, it seems that it didn’t quite see the kind of success it should have. And so the reason for its discontinuation could be a lack of sales.
A Bloomberg report soon after the smart speaker’s launch in 2018 points to lackluster sales, and it seems the situation hasn’t improved over the past couple of years.
Check the below tweet by the tech blogger Michael Kukielka that highlights the same problem;
I think the lack of sales can probably be attributed to a pricing issue – at launch, the HomePod cost $349, which is far pricier than competitors Amazon Echo and Google Nest.
Moreover, the competitor devices also boast better smart home integrations that give them an edge over the HomePod.
But with the affordable HomePod mini now in the arena, Apple is perhaps reworking their pricing strategy, and we could likely see a more competitively priced new HomePod too!
HomePod mini – hitting a home run!
Despite the disappointing sales of the Homepod, don’t underestimate the newer, smarter HomePod mini. In its statement about canceling the flagship smart speaker, Apple highlighted:
“HomePod mini has been a hit since its debut last fall, offering customers amazing sound, an intelligent assistant, and smart home control all for just $99. We are focusing our efforts on HomePod mini.”
The $99 price tag may be one of the factors driving the mini’s success. Moreover, it’s got excellent features like Handoff and Intercom, which further add to the appeal. I’m excited to see what more the tech giant will add to a revamped smart speaker that can serve as a bigger sibling to the mini.
What’s coming next to Apple’s “Home” turf?
I’m pretty sure this is not the end of the road for the Apple HomePod. Because if there’s one thing I know for sure, Apple is a master strategist who makes calculated moves. Within a few months, we will know why they discontinued the HomePod and what’s to come next.
An all-new smart speaker
According to Tech Crunch, Apple invested considerable resources in developing the HomePod. So, one of the most apparent speculations is that we will get an all-new device, perhaps a HomePod 2 or HomePod Pro, to replace the discontinued flagship. It could be a high-end version of the nifty and affordable HomePod mini.
Maybe we will see this possible newbie appear as soon as Apple’s first event of the year, which is rumored to come in April 2021 (for now at least). We can also expect other products, including AirPods 3, AirPods Pro 2, a new iPad Pro, and a new Apple TV.
There is the possibility of significant upgrades to Siri, the voice assistant that powers the HomePod and other Apple devices. Siri has not yet matched up to the Amazon Alexa or Google Nest’s AI capabilities, and changes that Apple is seeking to make may not be viable through just a software update.
Mini going mighty
Lastly, Apple will surely add the latest HomePod mini’s features to an upgraded device. This could include hardware changes to add ultra-wideband support that allows you to handoff music from your iPhone to the HomePod by simply hovering it above the speaker.
Knowing Apple, it probably has some other impressive features in the pipeline too, which I’m, of course, eagerly looking forward to.
Should you still take home an Apple HomePod?
The HomePod continues to be one of the best speakers you can get, and you can probably snag a great deal on one of the last pieces until stocks last. You’ll get top-notch sound quality and can rest assured that Apple will continue to support the device for several years to come.
However, I think it’s wiser to wait a few months and see what Apple has in store because there might be a better, smarter device coming soon.
What happens to my HomePod now?
If you own an HomePod, there’s absolutely no cause for concern. Discontinuation does not mean the end of the product. Your smart speaker will continue to work as usual, and Apple will support it for several years to come.
So just sit back and ask Siri to play your favorite music while we wait to see what Apple gives us next.
What are your thoughts about bidding adieu to the HomePod? Have your say in the comments below.