Apple's HomePod smart speaker might be getting a cheaper cousin.
Credit: Tom's Guide
The company is currently working on a cheaper version of its $349 HomePod, Apple-tracking site LoveiOS is reporting, citing an "anonymous source" who claims to have knowledge of Apple's plans. However, unlike the HomePod, Apple's cheaper device would be available through the company's Beats audio brand.
Not much is known about the possible cheaper HomePod, but the report says Apple is discussing its plans with one of its suppliers, MediaTek, on building a cheaper version. The company would like to get the price on the cheaper HomePod to $199, making it substantially cheaper than the standard Apple smart speaker. This would also give Apple something closer to the $199 Sonos One, our highest rated smart speaker.
Apple released its HomePod speaker earlier this year. Although it's powered by Apple's virtual personal assistant Siri, it's not as capable as alternatives like Amazon's Echo and Google Home, which both have many more capabilities. Apple has instead focused its sales pitch on sound quality.
Whether that's actually resonated with customers, however, is debatable. According to recently released data from Strategy Analytics, Apple sold 600,000 HomePod units during the first quarter, putting it far behind market leaders Amazon and Google. Even China-based Alibaba sold more smart speakers during the first quarter than Apple. It's important to note, though, that those quarterly numbers are based on two months of availability.
One of the biggest complaints surrounding Apple's HomePod has centered on its price. With the the Amazon Echo on sale for just $99, not everyone is so keen on forking over $349 for a new HomePod. Delivering a similar device at $199 under the Beats brand might get Apple closer to appealing to those who want an affordable option.
Still, there will undoubtedly be some caveats. It's unlikely, for instance, that Apple would offer the same sound quality in its cheaper HomePod. It's also possible Apple could remove some features, like the touchpad at the top of the device.
But for now, this is all speculation. And exactly when — or even if — Apple unveils a cheaper HomePod is unknown.