According to a news release by Fortune, Apple is finally to put its much-hyped HomePod up for pre-sale orders on Friday, January 26, 2018. The iPhone maker had announced the release date for the HomePod as February 9, which is a two-month delay from its original release date.
The HomePod will come in two colors – space gray and white and will cost you $349. The HomePod is equipped with Apple’s virtual assistant Siri and comes with support for Apple Music, which is the company’s paid streaming music service. The Apple HomePod can be used as a stereo using another HomePod. Or users can place HomePods in each room of the house and they can listen to audio in all rooms if they so desire.
Apple has boosted the HomePods features by developing the SiriKit. With this “kit”, developers can integrate their apps with Siri so that their apps can then be controlled by the virtual assistant.
The new smart home assistant is in direct competition with Amazon’s Alexa enable Echo and Google’s Google Assistant enabled Home smart speakers. However, the tech giant has focused on the device’s sound quality as its USP. When the product release was announced, it was phrases like “stunning audio quality” as well as “incredible music listening experience” that got the applause.
The Apple HomePod will be available in the US at Apple Stores as well as on BestBuy. The new device will also be available in the UK and Australia from February 9 onwards. Other European countries will only get the HomePod later in the year.
According to The Verge, Sonos, the leader in the multi-room speaker segment, is already taking steps to protect its product, the Sonos One, from Apple’s HomePod. The company is offering its customers two Sonos One speakers for the price of one Apple HomePod. The promotion is due to kick off on January 26 – the day that the HomePod will be available for pre-sale orders.
However, according to CNBC, Apple’s losing its edge. A number of analysts in the market are now beginning to question the giant’s product and pricing strategy.
Boris Schlossberg from BK Asset Management feels that the world’s biggest company is now facing two major challenges – an inflated belief in its own range of products as well as increasingly tough competition. He told CNBC in an interview that Apple is making a huge mistake by betting that expensive products are saleable right now but it is becoming clearer that the competition has caught up with the company now.
Schlossberg’s objection to Apple’s pricing strategy re-surfaced with the launch of the new HomePod, which at $349, is far more expensive than its direct competitors, Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home Mini. He feels that this product is going to fail since the price of the product just doesn’t justify its functionality.
In fact, it’s not just the new HomePod launch that has analysts worried. According to data analyzed by JP Morgan shows a 50% drop in quarter-on-quarter sales for the iPhone X. Atlantic Equities has already downgraded its rating of Apple from “overweight” to “neutral” because of the weakening iPhone demand.
Such reports have caused Apple shares to drop this week. Since the beginning of this week, the company’s share prices have dropped by 2%. If this trend continues, then this will be the first week with negative performance this year. Overall, Apple stocks are up by 3% so far this year, vis-à-vis the S&P 500’s 1.5% gains this year. The company is currently the worst performer in the Technology sector, which has grown 7% so far.