Apple has halted production of the expensive HomePod smart speaker it started shipping in 2018.
The speaker will still be sold until supplies run out, but the space gray version has already disappeared from Apple’s online store. Only the white version remains, although you may be able to find the space gray version from a third-party retailer.
Regardless of the production change, HomePod owners will continue to receive software updates and support from Apple indefinitely.
Apple says it plans to focus on the more successful HomePod mini. The HomePod mini costs $99 – a third of the price of the HomePod – and offers significantly lower sound quality.
The HomePod mini also doesn’t have the same features as the original HomePod. For example, Apple launched the “home theater” mode for the HomePod a few months ago, with optimizations and features intended to make it work as part of a home theater surround sound setup with an Apple TV 4K streaming box. That’s not available on the HomePod mini.
Apple has provided the following statement to TechCrunch, confirming that the HomePod has been discontinued:
HomePod mini has been a hit since its debut last fall, offering customers great sound, an intelligent assistant, and smart home controls for just $99. We’re focusing our efforts on HomePod mini. We’re discontinuing the original HomePod, which will remain 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.
The HomePod was the result of significant investment by Apple; a large team worked for years to build the most advanced speaker they could, using machine learning and other techniques to optimize sound quality based on the room the speaker was placed in and how many other speakers were synced to it in that room. Sonos and other companies have made similar efforts, but reviews of the HomePod suggested it was at least as good, if not better, than Sonos’ offerings.
But it hasn’t been a good run for ultra-high-end smart speakers; For example, Google also stopped the competing Google Home Max speaker. As has been seen in the world of streaming music services and headphones, the evidence is strong that the vast majority of consumers simply do not prioritize superior audio quality, preferring instead cheaper, lower quality speakers to take advantage of their convenience. and flexibility.
This is the second product line that Apple has recently pulled the plug on. Just a week ago, it was revealed that production of the iMac Pro was being halted, with Apple pointing to the standard 27-inch iMac as an alternative. The iMac Pro hadn’t been substantially updated since its introduction, and the top configurations of the regular iMac caught up with it.
Apple is expected to introduce a new version of the standard 27-inch iMac sometime next year. Given the relative success of the HomePod mini, more home audio products may be on the way as well.
List image by Jeff Dunn