Apple is shelving its original smart speaker, HomePod, and will instead put its energy into the smaller version, the HomePod Mini. So said the Cupertino, California-based tech company to TechCrunch, noting that the speaker will continue to be supported, but that the HomePod Mini will be the smart speaker it produces going forward.
This is the second higher-end device Apple has quietly put aside in the last week, with the first the iMac Pro, a $4,999 desktop computer. Now, the HomePod, which first debuted in 2017, and came to market in 2018 at $349, is joining the iMac Pro, and will be only sold until existing supplies last, according to Apple's web site. (The space gray color is already sold out.)
HomePod vs the other guys
HomePod was Apple's first foray into a dedicated stand alone smart speaker, coming more than three years after Amazon's launch of the Amazon Echo speaker for its voice assistant Alexa, and more than a year after Google debuted the Google Home speaker for its Google Assistant. HomePod was a space for Siri, Apple's voice assistant, which actually debuted on the iPhone 4s in 2011.
The price tag of the HomePod was a shock though, even when Apple dropped it to $299, significantly higher than most of Amazon's and Google's own smart speakers — although very inline with Google's own premium speaker the Google Home Max, which launched about the same time at $399. But Apple, never a stranger to putting a premium price on its products, cited not just the design of the speaker but also the quality of the tweeters and woofers. The HomePod, while a home for Siri, was then classified more for its use as a premium sound device — and less a way for Apple users to ask the voice assistant to turn off the lights.
Both Google and Amazon soon continued on this path as well, Google especially focusing on high-end speakers like the Nest Audio, but at a much more consumer-friendly price point of $99. Apple, too, started to follow the mini route, as well as a less budget-busting path, launching the new HomePod Mini in 2020 for $99, still focusing on sound, but now at a price point more aligned with its competitors.
HomePod Mini vs HomePod
Apple also updated the HomePod in 2020. And while the HomePod Mini differed from the updated HomePod in size and price, there were are a few features that separate the two. The HomePod Mini relies on the S5 chip inside for optimizing sound quality, while the HomePod is built with more dedicated physical elements, including a microphone array, for its sound.
Both devices though harness Siri for voice support, both can tap into HomeKit for smart device control, and both can make use of features like using the speakers as an intercom.
But when it comes to the HomePod vs the HomePod Mini, Apple appears to be saying that the smaller, less expensive, version is the direction it wants to focus on for now. The HomePod will continue to get software updates, and be eligible for support through AppleCare as well.Those eager to pick up the HomePod still can on Apple's web site, only in white, "while supplies last," Apple states.