Apple shipped 2.6 million HomePods during all-important holiday quarter

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Apple debuts HomePod in India at its cheapest price yet
HomePod is still a bit player in the smart speaker market.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple sold just 2.6 million HomePods into the retail channel worldwide in the last three months of 2020, a new report claims. While that is up from the 1.6 million units it shipped the same quarter a year earlier, it’s still a fraction of the total shipped by market leader Amazon.

“The price is still very high,” David Watkins, director at Strategy Analytics, told Cult of Mac. “That closes the door to a huge swathe of potential customers.”

“I think there’s also a reasonable amount of consumer skepticism over the usefulness of Siri as a voice platform,” Watkins continued. “Amazon and Google have done an amazing job of building out their ecosystem around Alexa and Google Assistant, in partnership with so many smart home companies. Apple doesn’t have that strength of ecosystem around Siri.”

According to research published by Strategy Analytics, Amazon shipped 15.8 million units during the same period for 28.3% of the market. Google followed with 13.9 million units for 24.9%. Apple trailed in sixth place with just 4.7% of the overall smart speaker market.

Overall, the global smart speaker market grew to total shipments of 146.9 million units in 2019. That’s up 70% from 2018. Amazon and Google stayed ahead of the pack as the two market leaders. Chinese brands Baidu, Alibaba, and Xiaomi all gained ground.

Q4_2019_Smart_Speaker_Global_Market_Shares_by_Vendor
How shipments broke down in Q4.
Photo: Strategy Analytics

Although Apple’s numbers remain tiny next to Amazon and Google, HomePod experienced more year-on-year growth than either. While Amazon grew 16% and Google 20%, Apple’s HomePod shipments grew 65% year-over-year. It’s tough to compare, however, since Apple is starting from a lower base in terms of numbers. Part of the growth, Watkins said, is that Apple debuted HomePod in new markets — notably China — in 2019.

One likely reason for Apple lagging behind is its price point. Currently, Apple sells the HomePod for $299 in the United States. Meanwhile, Amazon and Google have small, budget options available, such as the Amazon Echo. These can sell for under $50. Apple, for its part, has so far been resistant to rolling out a cheap HomePod.

But Watkins thinks that HomePod could flourish (or, at least, increase its market share) as the smart speaker industry matures. “We’re starting to see that people buying their second or third smart speaker are less focused on price, and more on features and audio quality.”

Then again, with Amazon entering the premium market with Amazon Echo Studio, HomePod could have a battle on its hands there as well.

2.6 million HomePods shipped in Q4

A recent report from eMarketer didn’t even break down HomePod as its own product in the smart speaker market. Instead, it lumped it in with the “other” devices that make up just 18.4% of the overall U.S. market. Meanwhile, Amazon hoovers up 70% of sales, followed by Google with 31.7% market share.

Do you have a smart speaker? What do you make of Apple’s HomePod? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: BusinessWire