Apple planned to ship the HomePod smart speaker in time for the Christmas Holidays. But they missed and rescheduled for ‘early 2018’.
Reports suggest that Google and Amazon sold boat loads of smart speakers during the holidays. Yes we have one in the kitchen and so do a lot of other people.
Reports are now surfacing that the first HomePods are on the way to Apple. The Taipei Times reports that contract maker Inventec has shiped the first million units. Apple is expected to sell over 10 million units per year, so a million is just one months supply. At 10 million units, that would translate into $3.5 billion of HomePod revenue for the year, or about 1.3% of the $273.8 billion in 2018 revenue that the Street is currently expecting. Still, another billion dollar product is not bad.
Delay – why?
Apple reportedly needed the additional time in order to improve the integration of software and hardware, suggesting that manufacturability is not an issue for the device, as is often the case with other new Apple products but was more linked to the software or service.
The Smart Speaker Market is how big?
Market researcher Canalys estimates that global smart speaker volumes will reach 56 million units in 2018, in which case Apple could theoretically grab over 20% unit share at the high-end if those estimates prove accurate. The challenge is that forecasting a market that’s this young and growing this quickly is fundamentally difficult, and Canalys’ estimates could easily be off.
Beyond financial results, HomePod is Apple’s first voice-controlled smart speaker and remains quite important strategically. Smart speakers have emerged as a product category that is intricately linked to smart-home technology, and rivals have leapfrogged Apple in voice-controlled virtual assistants. Apple’s unwillingness to support third-party integrations for Siri in the way that Amazon and Google do with their respective assistants (prototype products integrating Alexa and/or Google Assistant were featured heavily at CES) will also hurt adoption of its virtual assistant.