Strategy Analytics has posted their latest Smart Speaker report and it is encouraging news for the Apple HomePod. During the 4th quarter of last year, Apple’s smart speaker shipped an estimated 1.6 million units, a 45% increase over the previous quarter. This was the first holiday quarter that the HomePod was available (it released in February 2018) so there is no year-over-year comparison available. The numbers also reflect a 1 million unit increase in sales if you compare it to the first quarter of 2018, when the Apple HomePod first became available.
The increase in sales puts Apple with a 4.1% marketshare when compared to other global smart speaker players. The two leaders of the pack, Amazon and Google, are over twenty percentage points clear of the Cupertino company. Amazon, with the Amazon Echo, has a 35.5% marketshare while Google with the Google Home has 30% of the market. If you look at sales comparisons for the last quarter of 2018, Amazon sold 13.7 million Echo devices while Google sold 11.5 million Home devices.
While sales figures and marketshare percentages are important, it is equally important to remember that Apple is aiming for a slightly different market with the HomePod than their competitors. Apple has always put the emphasis on speaker in smart speaker, focusing on impressive sound quality over others. That has pushed the price of the HomePod up far beyond the cost of competitive products. You can pick up a HomePod for $349 while the top-end Amazon Echo is $149. We can discuss sound quality all day but the reality is, most people are going to focus on price first.