Apple shipped 600,000 HomePods in the first quarter of 2018, according to a new sales calculation by market research firm Strategy Analytics. With those sales, the firm says that Apple should have about 6 percent of the market, which places it far behind Amazon and Google, and just below the Chinese giant of e-commerce Alibaba.
Here are some grains of salt. The HomePod did not go on sale until February 9, so Apple did not have the full quarter, which ended on March 31, to accumulate sales. These are only estimates, since Apple has published complete figures and we do not know with certainty how accurate Strategy Analytics is in this case, although the company has long monitored the sales trends of the technology industry and market leadership. Finally, Strategy Analytics is careful to say "sent" and not "sold" here. While the HomePod can be sold primarily through Apple's website, where the distinction between those terms may not be as significant as it is for other brands, it is still important to point out here in the event that a considerable amount of HomePods is left in inventory rooms.
Even so, the figures seem to coincide with the news that HomePod did not meet Apple's expectations. Bloomberg reported last month that Apple reduced its sales forecasts for HomePod and cut orders with supplier Inventec. Initially, the company saw its smart speaker 10 percent of the market compared to Amazon's 73 percent, especially in the strength of an initial wave preorder HomePod, Bloomberg reported, based on data from Slice Intelligence. But that enthusiasm faded after many early adopters put their hands on the product, and HomePod captured just 4 percent of the market three weeks after launch, according to the report.
There are some reasons why HomePod can not sell as well as Apple expected. On the one hand, the speaker is primarily treated as an accessory to the iOS ecosystem, such as AirPods, which works best only for those in the depths of Apple's walled garden. For example, the speaker only works well with Apple Music, and other streaming services must rely on AirPlay to stream music from an iOS device to the speaker itself. On top of that, you need at least one iOS or Mac device to use HomePod, leaving aside PC and Android users who do not have an Apple-built device. Apple also launched the HomePod without stereo synchronization compatibility, which will come later this year. Another problem is the price: at $ 349, it is much more expensive than the Amazon, Google or Sonos offerings.
There are rumors that Apple could develop a cheaper and smaller HomePod to compete more directly with the Amazon Echo standard and Google Home, although more reliable Apple analysts such as Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI are not sure that happen soon. Kuo estimated last month that Apple would sell between 2 and 2.5 million HomePods in 2018, which would make Apple's smart speaker an almost billion-dollar business and certainly nothing to laugh at.