More signs point to a new HomePod in our future

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HomePod speaker
HomePod discounts give clear sign of a new model.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

From Best Buy discounting the HomePod to Apple employees now able to buy up to 10 of the smart speakers at a discount, there are clear signs Cupertino is trying to clear out its warehouses before a rumored new model this year.

At $100 off retail, Best Buy began selling HomePod for $200 Monday for a limited time. Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman tweeted Monday that Apple employees can now buy up to 10 of the speakers at employee discount, commenting, “These things are clearly on the way out.”

Monday’s revelations are more evidence that the Apple speaker is likely to be upgraded soon. Late last month, Gurman reported Apple was focused on “saving the HomePod with a cheaper model. He made a similar prediction based on information obtained from his sources last August.

Hope for a more affordable HomePod

The original HomePod debuted in 2018 at $349, but Apple lowered the price to $299 last year. For various reasons, including the price and popularity of competing virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, rival products have been tough competitors for the HomePod.

In the first quarter of this year, Apple captured only 9% of the smart speaker market share, according to analyst research firm Omdia. That was a distant third to Amazon and its Alexa-powered devices and second to Google with 35%.

With the additions over time of multi-user support, creating stereo pairs with multiple HomePods, and Spotify voice control, the HomePod has improved its overall usefulness, especially for consumers operating it with other Apple products. But nothing has helped increase its popularity and sales compared to other smart speakers.

When Apple will debut a new, redesigned HomePod remains anyone’s guess at the moment. However, it certainly appears Apple is working with retailers and others to clear their inventory before rolling out a new model.