Predicting Apple device sales is a risky business, especially if you’re saying they’re going to disappoint: the company has a habit of proving naysayers wrong.
Still, research firm KGI’s analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s tealeaf-reading skills are generally respected within the tech industry, so his latest prediction is getting plenty of airing.
Kuo claims that Apple could sell between 2m and 2.5m of its HomePod smart speakers in 2018, which is well below other analyst estimates of anywhere between 7m and 10m units this year.
Kuo’s note for clients suggested that HomePod’s high price has restricted sales compared to the lower-priced (and sometimes aggressively discounted) Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers. He also claimed that Apple is “mulling” a lower-cost HomePod.
The great thing about ‘mulling’ as a word, of course, is that it doesn’t necessarily lead to any action: indeed, if Apple *hadn’t* mulled the idea of a cheaper speaker at some point, it would be a shock.
As we’ve noted whenever covering HomePod predictions, it’s still early days: the speaker is only available in a few markets, with English-language support, and the subtext of many reviews has been ‘wait until Siri gets better’, which may be leading to a wait-and-see approach for some buyers.
As with the Apple Watch, which has quietly become a successful product after initial negative speculation about its sales, we won’t write off the HomePod too soon. Equally, we won’t underestimate Amazon and Google’s capabilities to make the smart-speakers market a game of scale and smarts, rather than of high-end audio quality.