Apple’s $200 HomePod might carry Beats brand

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A cheaper version of the HomePod could drop below the $200 mark.
The rumored inexpensive HomePod might not be called a HomePod. It could be a Beats smartspeaker instead.
Photo: Apple

Rumors indicate Apple’s working on a cheaper version of the HomePod. And now there’s a new wrinkle: this device might be sold under the Beats brand name.

This would let the HomePod name stand as a premier product, while still allowing Apple to make a more affordable smartspeaker.

Beats Electronics is a division of Apple that produces consumer headphones, earphones, and speakers. The company was founded by music producer and rapper Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine before being acquired in 2014.

The news of a Beats smartspeaker comes from Sina, a website based in China. No source for the information is given, but the chip-maker MediaTek is mentioned as supplying processors for the lower-cost Beats version. The implication is that someone at MediaTech leaked this news.

Beats smartspeaker at $200 or less

In April, the well-respected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple is considering making a low-cost version of the HomePod. He didn’t give a price range. However, a separate report from Asia shortly thereafter indicated this device could be between $150 and $200.

That’s far below the current $349 price. A price that puts Apple’s smart speaker out of the reach of all but a few.  During the first three months of this year, HomePod accounted for only 6 percent of the global smartspeaker market.

By contrast, Amazon’s Echo smartspeakers with Alexa sell by the tens of million, with prices that start at $49. Even the most elaborate version, which boasts a screen, costs $229.

A $200 Beats smartspeaker would enable Apple to compete much more successfully. And we have some other suggestions to improve the HomePod.