Report: Sales of Apple smart speaker stall

According to Slice Intelligence Apple saw 10 percent of Q1 US smart speaker sales but the number has fallen more recently.

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Sales of Apple’s HomePod smart speaker have stalled, according to new data from Slice Intelligence. Since its launch in January, HomePod managed to capture 10 percent of sales; however, more recently, sales have slowed significantly.

The data, first reported by Bloomberg, suggest enthusiasm among Apple loyalists and early adopters but a failure to attract a broader audience. Below are the Q1 US smart speaker sales according to Slice Intelligence, which should be taken as approximate:

  • Alexa devices — 73 percent
  • Google Home — 14 percent
  • Apple HomePod — 10 percent
  • Sonos One (running Alexa) — 2 percent

At $349, HomePod is quite a bit more expensive than most Alexa devices and Google Home, both of which retail for under $200. HomePod has also suffered from mixed reviews and a lack of native support for streaming services other than Apple Music (i.e., Pandora and Spotify).

The Slice Intelligence data is not a surprise given the price and perceived limitations of the device. Apple now must grapple with how to improve HomePod.

If it wants to succeed in the smart speaker market, which has become strategic, it will have to consider doing some or all of the following:

  • Creating a lower-cost version of HomePod (e.g., HomePod mini).
  • Integrating native support for music services other than Apple Music.
  • Beefing up Siri functionality on the device (I argued previously it’s not that bad).
  • Addressing the problem that it leaves marks on furniture.
  • Adding some as-yet-undefined feature (beyond better sound) that helps differentiate HomePod.

It is clear, however, that Apple won’t succeed if HomePod’s primary function is as a high-fidelity speaker and the smart part is an afterthought. It must compete head-on as a full-blown smart speaker.

Apple should also explore developing smart-screen devices to compete with the Echo Show and the coming Google Smart Display units.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Greg Sterling
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.

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