18 months after it first went on sale in the U.S., Apple’s HomePod speaker is finally launching in Japan.
Having teased that it would launch sometime this summer, Apple has now revealed that HomePod will be available to buy August 23. The Siri-powered device opened for pre-orders this week.
The HomePod will be available in white and space gray options, just like elsewhere in the world. It will cost 32,800 yen. That’s approximately the same as the $299 price tag of the HomePod in the U.S.
HomePod’s previous expansion was to China and Hong Kong back in January. It’s on sale in just 10 countries today.
Can Apple make a hit of HomePod in Japan?
The Japanese market is an interesting one when it comes to smart speakers. Despite Japan’s reputation as a tech-heavy culture, smart speakers launched there slightly later than many other parts of the world. Ownership of smart speakers is still a fraction of what it is in the United States.
Furthermore, some research has suggested that there is an additional cultural challenge with smart speakers. According to a 2017 voice search study, 70% of Japanese respondents said that, “It is embarrassing to voice search in front of others.” 40% said that they only use voice search, “with nobody in the house.”
Nonetheless, Japan has proven a popular market for Apple in the past. Despite early predictions it wouldn’t succeed, Japan fell in love with the iPhone. It subsequently became a big market, per capita, for the handset. If Apple’s able to do a similar thing with the HomePod that would be amazing — especially given how it lags behind other rivals in popularity elsewhere.
Back in 2003, Japan was the first country outside of the U.S. to receive an Apple Store. This owed largely to Steve Jobs’ love of the country. Jobs had a lifelong affection for Japan, and visited often.
If you live in Japan, you can pre-order the HomePod here.