Apple is gearing up to launch a new version of its HomePod smart speaker, according to reliable supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple currently sells the $99 HomePod mini as its only model. The much more impressive-sounding original HomePod was discontinued last year after a price drop from $349 to $299.
New HomePod rumors
According to Kuo, Apple is targeting the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of next year to launch the next HomePod model. Presumably, it’ll be a larger model than the HomePod mini, but with features that help keep the $300 cost down like its predecessor.
The other alternative, though hopefully less likely, is a new version of the HomePod mini. Apple has released new colors of the HomePod mini, but a second generation doesn’t seem necessary yet.
Same HomePod design
That’s just speculation, though, as Kuo only described the new HomePod by saying “there may not be much innovation in the hardware design.” Of course, that could be a good thing given that the hardware design isn’t a major complaint, unless you want Bluetooth or line-out functionality.
Kuo went on to say that while he sees smart speakers as “definitely one of the essential elements of the home ecosystem”, he doesn’t think Apple has figured out how to succeed in the smart speaker space.
smart speaker market
That’s largely because Apple insists on high-end audio performance, which comes with higher price tags, and that’s before you consider Apple’s margins for a product worth it. The Amazon Echo and Google Nest products even rival the HomePod mini in price (if not features), but we don’t expect Apple to release a HomePod version below the HomePod mini threshold.
Since the original introduction of the HomePod, Sonos has also bolstered its smart speaker products with voice control capabilities. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant first brought voice control of music and smart features to Sonos, and now the company has developed its own in-house smart assistant for voice control of music.
Kuo also recently predicted that Apple is developing a new version of the Apple TV set-top box in an effort to reduce the cost structure.
9to5Mac’s point of view
Kuo’s latest prediction is music to our ears. We were big fans of the original HomePod despite its higher price tag compared to Amazon and Google deals. The HomePod mini was a must-have option, but it shouldn’t be Apple’s only smart speaker. Besides, mini compared to what?
Q4 2022 and Q1 2023 aren’t that far away, and we can’t wait to hear more about this new HomePod model in development. The larger HomePods are great for the living room, while the smaller versions are more appropriate throughout the home. Hopefully Apple has found a way to come close to the original HomePod in terms of quality, but without the high price tag that limited its appeal to the masses.
Or, you know, maybe Apple could just make fewer high-end HomePods. The AirPods Max headphones are a wonderful addition to the AirPods headphone market, and the adoption of the latter is light years ahead of the former. It’s also worth noting that Apple introduced its $550 headphones just before discontinuing its $300 speaker. By our measure, HomePod was a much better value than the AirPods Max (even though they’re also excellent).
FTC: We use revenue-generating automatic affiliate links. After.
Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news: