"We understand that the market expects HomePod shipments to reach 5-10 million units in fiscal year 2018, versus our forecast of only 2.0-2.5 million units," Kuo wrote in a research note obtained by MacRumors.
Kuo believes that the "big failure" in HomePod shipments could be attributable to speaker design and pricing, among other factors.
To begin with, at $ 349, he said that the high price of HomePod "could undermine demand despite the excellent sound quality." He added that Siri provides an "uninspiring user experience" compared to its competitors, presumably including the Amazon Echo with Alexa and the Google Home with the Google Assistant.
Kuo said HomePod's potentially mediocre sales also highlight "underlying concerns" in Apple's artificial intelligence development.
Six years have passed since Apple introduced Siri to the market, which was way ahead of the company's main competitors. The massive population of iOS and MacOS users is also conducive to the promotion of the voice assistant function. However, we note that for most users around the world, Siri is not an essential feature, and Apple has not yet become a leading brand in the AI voice assistants market. We also note that HomePod has not added support for new languages on the device since its launch, suggesting that Apple faces challenges in the development of voice / AI assistants around the world; this will limit the impetus of HomePod shipments.
The analyst, very accurately, said that Apple is "reflecting" on a "low-cost version" of HomePod that can help short-term shipments. However, even if the product materializes, it predicts that it will only provide a short-term boost to sales.
More importantly, Kuo believes that Apple needs to improve Siri, support more languages and make other improvements to HomePod to remain competitive with Amazon and Google in the smart speaker market. Premium audio quality alone may not be enough for customers to justify dropping $ 349 on the speaker.
Kuo's investigation of potentially minor-to-expected HomePod shipments echoes similar reports from Bloomberg News and China Times earlier this week. Rumors of a lower-priced HomePod have also appeared a few times in recent months, and a report suggests a price of $ 150 to $ 200 in the United States.
Apple launched HomePod in early February in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, and also confirmed availability in France and Germany later this spring. AirPlay 2 features, such as stereo sound and multi-room audio, will not be available until the end of this year, according to Apple.