When the music stops: Apple discontinues full-size HomePod

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The HomePod -- a beautiful body with the brain of an idiot.
The originally HomePod is going away but the HomePod mini is going strong.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The $299 version of Apple’s HomePod smart speaker has been discontinued. The company is already selling out of its remaining supply.

But that doesn’t mean Apple is getting out of the smart speaker business — it’s pleased with the launch of the more affordable HomePod mini.

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Apple gave a statement to TechCrunch:

“HomePod mini has been a hit since its debut last fall, offering customers amazing sound, an intelligent assistant, and smart home control all for just $99. We are focusing our efforts on HomePod mini. We are discontinuing the original HomePod, it will continue to be available while supplies last through the Apple Online Store, Apple Retail Stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers. Apple will provide HomePod customers with software updates and service and support through Apple Care.”

While the first-generation HomePod can still be found at the online Apple Store, the space gray version is listed as “sold out.” That means that all that’s left is the smart speaker in white. It’s not available at a discount, despite being discontinued.

Original HomePod failed to take the world by storm

When the HomePod reached customers’ hands in 2018, it received rave reviews for audio quality. And tons of criticism for the limitations of Siri, Apple’s voice-control system. Over time, Apple engineers ironed out many of Siri’s problems. But complaints about the cost continued, as the smart speaker debuted at $349. Even a later drop to $299 did little to satisfy potential buyers priced out of a sale.

Most of Apple’s competitors sell for much lower prices. The Amazon Echo Dot retails for just $49.99, for example. As a result, Apple didn’t show up in market research firm Canalys’ 2019 list of the top five makers of smart speaker.

Everything changed in autumn 2020, though, with the release of the HomePod mini. While the smaller version doesn’t promise world-class audio, reviews have been quite positive. Just as important, the HomePod mini costs just $99. And that was enough to catapult Apple onto the list of top five smart speaker brands for Q4 2020, according to Strategy Analytics.

HomePod mini is available now from the online Apple store in space gray or white.