Now that Apple has finally set a date for its iPhone 12 event, new info is coming about other products Apple might release with one leak suggesting that instead of a HomePod 2, Apple will release a cheaper HomePod Mini.
In a short but direct post on Twitter, L0vetodream—who has a pretty solid track record regarding previous Apple leaks—claims Apple will release a HomePod Mini sometime this year, and with the timing of Apple’s upcoming event on Oct. 13, we could be in store for an official announcement next week.
Given current rumors that Apple will also release an iPhone 12 Mini this fall, the arrival of a HomePod Mini could help amplify Apple’s Mini lineup of more approachable, less expensive tech. Furthermore, a cheaper HomePod feels almost like a necessity for Apple if the company is interested in competing seriously against Google and Amazon’s line of ubiquitous smart speakers. But at this point, I have to question if the HomePod Mini is enough?
At this point, most people will generally concede that Siri just isn’t as smart or as capable as Alexa or the Google Assistant, which seriously diminishes the appeal of a speaker with Siri built-in. And when you add in the fact that the only Siri-compatible smart speaker costs $300 (which originally launched at $350), it’s probably not a surprise to see Apple lagging far behind Amazon and Google when it comes to smart speaker market share at just 4.7%, compared to 28.3% and 24.9% for Amazon and Google as of Q4 2019 according to Statista.
While rumors regarding the HomePod Mini’s price are pretty thin, current expectations still peg Apple’s more affordable smart speaker with a price tag of around $150, which still seems way too high. That would be three times the price (or more) than the cheapest Nest or Echo smart speaker, and with Google and Amazon regularly running promotions where they are practically giving away free Nest Minis and Echo Dots, it’s difficult to see a $150 or even a $100 HomePod Mini having enough of an impact to seriously affect the status quo.
With Google’s new Nest Audio sporting the best sound quality for the money, Apple’s new HomePod will be facing even tougher competition when it comes to audio quality, which was the original HomePod’s biggest strength.
Now, this doesn’t mean the HomePod Mini will be dead on arrival, Apple needs to start somewhere, and as the world’s most valuable company, Apple has a lot more leeway and a longer timeline to turn things around. But until Apple can make a smart speaker that’s truly affordable and address issues with Siri itself, the HomePod Mini may only be a stop-gap measure.