From M.G. Seigler’s “I Was Right That Apple Was Wrong” posted early Saturday on 500Words:
Apple’s quote on the matter to TechCrunch tonight pretty much says it all:
HomePod mini has been a hit since its debut last fall, offering customers amazing sound, an intelligent assistant, and smart home control all for just $99. We are focusing our efforts on HomePod mini. We are discontinuing the original HomePod, it will continue to be available while supplies last through the Apple Online Store, Apple Retail Stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers. Apple will provide HomePod customers with software updates and service and support through Apple Care.
This is both surprising for a product which Apple launched just three years ago to much pomp and circumstance, and entirely not surprising if you happened to read this here site back in 2017, ahead of the launch:
As we’re all well aware, Apple had to delay their foray into the space, the HomePod, into 2018. But not only did they miss the all-important holiday shopping season, I’m increasingly thinking that they may have missed the boat.
Believe me, I know how dangerous this line of thinking is with regard to Apple. Apple is almost never the first-mover in a market. Instead, they prefer to sit back and let markets mature enough to then swoop in with their effort, which more often than not is the best effort (this is both subjective in terms of my own taste, and often objective in terms of sales). But again, I increasingly don’t believe that this will be the case with their smart speaker.
Now, it’s true that people often shit on new Apple products and mock them relentlessly (until they inevitably buy them). I am not one of those people, obviously. I buy every Apple product. Including the HomePod, by the way. I’m all in. It’s a sickness, really. The only cure is more Apple product. Anyway, despite my predilections, it seemed to me that the HomePod strategy was uniquely flawed from the start. Per above, Apple is rarely a first mover in a space, but the issue here was that Amazon had changed the entire game with their Echo/Alexa strategy before Apple entered it.
Said another way: Apple brought a Sonos to an Alexa fight.
My take: Having lived for several years with all three major-brand smart speakers — Amazon’s, Google’s and Apple’s — I can say with some confidence that Apple’s was the dumbest. Sounded good, but ask it a question and it rarely had the right answer. According to John Gruber, Apple may have been selling HomePods at a loss, in which case pulling the plug was almost an act of kindness.
See the Apple 3.0 HomePod archives.