In November, Apple made a bid for mass market adoption of its HomePod smart speaker line with the $99 HomePod mini. It’s a far more attractive price point than the original $299 HomePod, but it’s still not clear if Apple’s latest smart speaker will attract a wider smart home audience.
While the original HomePod emphasized audio quality, the HomePod mini offers fewer internal speakers, making it less of a match for Sonos One, full-sized Echo or Google Nest Audio. Additionally, while $99 is almost in “impulse buy” territory for many consumers, it’s still not as affordable as the Echo Gen 4 with premium sound and smart home hub, now priced at $69. For smart home audio enthusiasts who desire the best sound quality, they may lean towards buying a full-sized Echo Gen 4 for less than a HomePod mini.
As The Verge put it in its HomePod mini review, Apple appears to be “playing small ball” with its latest offering and still has some catching up to do with Amazon and Google: “…the rest of the smart speaker world has obviously not stood still, and Amazon and Google have released the most compelling options in their respective lineups this year. While Siri has gotten better, it’s still the HomePod mini’s Achilles’ heel — well, that and the fact that you still need to be fully embedded in Apple’s ecosystem to get the most out of it.”
Consumers who are “fully embedded” in Apple’s ecosystem are more numerous than you might think, however. Interpret’s New Media Measure® shows that HomePod owners are typically among the Apple faithful (defined by Interpret as consumers who own three or more Apple products). 21% of American consumers age 13-65 currently fit the Apple faithful category, representing tens of millions of customers. In fact, more than half of all HomePod owners also own three or more other Apple products.
Apple, much like Nintendo, marches to the beat of its own drum. Sure, the company would no doubt love to have an even wider smart home audience, but given the sheer size of the Apple customer base already, selling the HomePod mini into that group may be enough… for now.