First things first, take a look at this Bloomberg article, which started a wave of discussion about alleged stumbling HomePod sales:
At first, it looked like the HomePod might be a hit. Pre-orders were strong, and in the last week of January the device grabbed about a third of the U.S. smart speaker market in unit sales, according to data provided to Bloomberg by Slice Intelligence. But by the time HomePods arrived in stores, sales were tanking, says Slice principal analyst Ken Cassar. “Even when people had the ability to hear these things,” he says, “it still didn’t give Apple another spike.”
Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac, responds in this linked op-ed:
HomePod is a much more expensive speaker than its rivals, and is only useful for a particular slice of the market: those who own an iPhone and either have an Apple Music subscription or have all their music in iTunes and subscribe to iTunes Match. It’s not reasonable to expect sales of a $350 speaker with a limited market to rival those of a $50 device aimed at the mass-market.
Ben’s piece goes into much more detail, addressing the gloom and doom of the Bloomberg piece. Well reasoned, worth reading both.
I do think it is way too early to judge this market. Apple is in the premium space, Google Home and Amazon Echo are based in the commodity space. To me, the key to HomePod growth is Apple’s R&D investment in improving Siri intelligence. If Apple improves the Siri experience, they’ll automatically make HomePod more appealing.
I can’t imagine a more important Apple technology to invest in than Siri. Siri impacts every aspect of the Apple ecosystem and is immensely leverage-able. Siri is the rising tide that lifts all boats.