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Beats is tasked with lifting Apple’s weak HomePod

by Justin Herrick | May 21, 2018May 21, 2018 7:00 am EST

Apple’s HomePod is struggling as Amazon and Google’s smart speakers continue dominating. More than 9 million units from every brand shipped in Q1 2018; however, only 600,000 of them came from Apple. With the company’s smart speaker falling behind, Apple could be turning to another brand for assistance.

The rumored budget-friendly HomePod will be released by Beats, according to a Taiwan supply chain source. MediaTek, who develops for connected devices around the world, has reportedly been tapped to make the chip inside this smart speaker.

Apple is piling up on unsold inventory, and the company recently asked one manufacturer to heavily scale back on production.

It’s been a bumpy road for Apple’s first smart speaker. Announced at WWDC 2017, the HomePod was delayed until early 2018 for unknown reasons. Then the product arrived with an underwhelming feature set.

Ming-Chi Kuo, the now-former KGI Securities analyst, revealed last month the Cupertino-based company was considering a cheaper HomePod to spark sales. Apple, though, knows it must also fix Siri in order to have its smart speakers be competitive. The digital assistant lags behind Alexa and Google Assistant significantly.

The possibility of a new HomePod may have been leaked by Siri, too. Apple’s digital assistant was asked by the Apple Post about WWDC 2018, and it responded by saying it’ll “have a shiny new home” soon.

Even though it’s been labeled as “entry-level” in the past, Apple won’t let Beats get away with entry-level pricing. The HomePod with watered-down specifications could cost around $199. While that’s less expensive than the HomePod at $349, it’s still much higher than the Echo at $99 and Google Home at $129.

While not impossible, don’t expect the budget-friendly model to debut at WWDC 2018. Beats doesn’t normally have any representation at Apple’s annual developer conference.

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Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...