HomePod failure shows Apple should quit making pricey niche products

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homepod
Watch out, AirPods Max! You might be next.
Photo: Apple

After throwing in the towel on the original HomePod after just three years, Apple should stop releasing pricey, niche products.

They don’t sell well — at least not well enough to keep Apple interested, apparently — and it’s not fair to consumers who shell out big bucks, then get stuck with a product that vanishes after just one generation.

Yes, Apple says it will continue to support the full-size HomePod with software updates, even as it refocuses on the $99 HomePod mini. But the old-school HomePod is a dead-end product.

You can read the HomePod debacle as an admission of failure regarding Apple’s framing of the device as a smart speaker rather than high-end audio gear. But it’s more than that. It’s an illustration of Apple’s faltering strategy of creating premium products for niche corners of the market.

watchOS 5 makes those pricey $10,000 Apple Watch Editions obsolete

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Apple
Three years later, it's all over for the first-gen Apple Watch Edition.
Photo: Apple

The idea of luxury watches is that they last a lifetime, maybe more. Patek Philippe makes this explicit with its tagline, “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.”

Clearly Apple didn’t get the memo, though. The company’s ultra-expensive Apple Watch Edition — which started at $10,000 and ran up to $17,000 — will soon be obsolete, thanks to Apple introducing watchOS 5 at this week’s WWDC event.

Why a ceramic iPhone 8 might be the ultimate iPhone

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Apple Watch Edition
iPhone 8 could look this good.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s switch to ceramic for Apple Watch Edition could mean big things for iPhone 8. Being four times harder than stainless steel and a darn sight prettier, ceramic would be an ideal material for the next generation of iPhone unibodies.

Recent rumors have promised Apple will deliver a major redesign next year to celebrate the iPhone’s 10th anniversary, and what better way to do that than with a new material that’s better than anything Apple’s used before?

Fixing your broken Apple Watch just got cheaper

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Crack! This one's got to go back to Apple.
Crack! This one's got to go back to Apple.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple is making it cheaper to repair broken Apple Watch Sport units that are no longer under warranty.

In an updated support document covering Apple Watch warranty services and pricing, the company revealed the out-of-warranty service fee on the Sport model has dropped $30.

Get a closer look at the el cheapo gold Apple Watch

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The gold Apple Watch looks great with a navy band.
The gold Apple Watch looks great with a navy band.
Photo: Blake Kimball

Apple fans can’t purchase the iPhone 6s, Apple TV, or iPad Pro that were unveiled yesterday, but if you’re lucky you can pick up the cheap gold Apple Watch Sport today, now that Apple Stores have received limited supplies of new units.

Cult of Mac got an early look at the new gold finish thanks to a reader who already scooped up a 42mm gold Apple Watch Sport at the Apple Store in Gilbert, Arizona, and while the new model is way cheaper than its expensive Edition sibling, it still looks like a million bucks.

Take a closer look:

Swiss custom Apple Watch offers Edition style at (relatively) low price

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Golden Dreams Apple Watch
Golden Dreams will take your standard Apple Watch to new levels of class.
Photo: Golden Dreams

If you like the look of the high-end Apple Watch Edition, but the $10,000+ price point makes your heart and wallet hurt, a Swiss company might have a nice alternative for you.

Golden Dreams of Geneva specializes in classing up iPhones, cases, and bags, and it’s turned its monocle-rimmed gaze to Apple’s new smartwatch. The company can take a standard version of the wearable and make it fancy at a fraction of the cost of its more precious sibling.