Apple cuts orders of HomePod on weak demand

No Echo here! Apple cuts Home Pod orders after sales prove to be lackluster

Pre-orders were strong, and in the last week of January the device grabbed about a third of the United States smart speaker market in unit sales, according to data provided to Bloomberg by Slice Intelligence. At Apple Stores throughout the country, the HomePod is collecting dust with some locations selling fewer than 10 units a day.

The HomePod was a late arrival to the smart speaker market, already dominated by the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices.

Similarly, the HomePod's AI-based digital assistant Siri had obvious issues handling common voice requests, which Apple appears to be addressing by ramping up Siri hiring - and adding a collection of mostly bad jokes to give the feature more personality. However, Apple's main focus with the HomePod has been Apple Music, marketing it as more of an accessory device, rather than a new product category.

Apple unveiled the $349 HomePod at WWDC last June, calling the device a "breakthrough home speaker" that would grant its Siri virtual assistant a permanent place in users' homes.

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The report further noted that "Apple had an opportunity to put the HomePod at the center of a new ecosystem of smart home and other gadgets that aren't glued to the iPhone". Slice reports that during its pre-order weekend, the HomePod grabbed 72% of smart speaker revenue. When the device ultimately went up for preorder in January, it captured approximately one third of the smart speaker market, the report said, citing statistics from Slice Intelligence. In February and March that dropped to 19%, compared to 68% for Amazon, 8% for Google, and 5% for Sonos.

Originally slated to go on sale in December in time for the lucrative holiday shopping season, HomePod was delayed late a year ago. Amazon, however, is on pace to sell 29 million Echos this year and 39 million in 2019, he told Bloomberg.

Another issue, HomePod's ability to mark certain wood surfaces with white rings, was discovered soon after the speaker's release. The Apple Watch faced challenges when it launched, too, and is now widely recognized as the top performing smartwatch on the market (although still a tiny part of its maker's business). The product was supposed to be released in December just in time for the holidays, but Apple missed the release and delayed the product.

But still, a premium acoustic experience seemingly hasn't spurred a spike in sales for Apple's astonishingly powerful smart speaker.

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