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It Looks Like Apple's HomePod Is In Trouble

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Apple Said to Lower Home Pod Sales Forecasts as Its First Smart Speaker Stumbles

It leaves open the prospect that Apple's numbers will improve when HomePod's hardware, software, and pricing issues are addressed. Pre-orders were strong, and in the last week of January the device grabbed about a third of the US smart speaker market in unit sales, according to data provided to Bloomberg by Slice Intelligence. If this report's numbers can be believed, Apple's physical stores alone would be on track to sell almost two million HomePods in 2018 before considering online and third-party retail sales - a trickle compared with other Apple products. For starters, the HomePod - with its $349 sticker price - is far more expensive than both the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Meanwhile, Amazon's Echo earned 73 percent market share during the same 10-week period, according to data Bloomberg obtained from Slice Intelligence.

With that said, reviews of the HomePod's sound quality have been overwhelmingly positive, with even audiophiles conceding that the device delivers incredible sound, a feat made all the more impressive given the speaker's relatively small footprint.

It's still too early to label the HomePod a total flop. Some HomePod buyers also complained that the device leaves marks on wood, a situation Apple is now working to rectify with a new material, according to people familiar with the work.

No Echo here: Apple reportedly cut orders for its HomePod smart speaker last month
Apple cuts orders of HomePod on weak demand

Bloomberg points to several other missteps from Apple: missing the Christmas smart speaker sales hype and an over reliance on the iPhone. According to the report, Apple is "now working to rectify [that issue] with a new material", though it's unclear whether the company will fix existing units or just quietly introduce the improvement into later production runs.

Looking ahead, HomePod sales might eventually see a significant spike amid reports that Apple might release a $150 HomePod later this year. By contrast, Munster predicts that Amazon will sell 29 million Echos this year and 39 million in 2019.

To make matters worse, the device missed its December release date, meaning the HomePod wasn't available during the pivotal holiday shopping season when smart speakers were among the most sought-after products. Alphabet is expected to sell 18 million Google Home devices this year and 32 million next year.

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