Apple’s HomePod makes modest gains against Echo, Google Home [Report]

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August 3, 2018 3:35 pm Published by

Using consumer survey data, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) reported this week that Apple’s HomePod smart speaker made market share gains against rivals Google Home and Amazon Echo. The firm now says that Apple’s device has 6 percent of the US smart speaker market.

Echo dominates, with a 70 percent share compared to Google Home’s 24 percent, according to the report. Apple roughly doubled its share from 3 percent in March. It’s easy to grow from a tiny base, but the gains may be meaningful.

US market share of smart speakers (June 2018)

It’s good news for Apple for several reasons:

  • HomePod is quite expensive at $349, limiting its market potential.
  • Mixed reviews (other than for sound) at launch also tempered demand.
  • Its virtual assistant capabilities are perceived to be weaker than Google’s or Amazon’s.

With all these real and perceived limitations, the data suggest there’s some pent-up demand for the Apple speaker. It’s also rumored to be getting new feature updates in the fall that will reportedly make it more competitive with Google and Amazon.

While that remains to be seen, a “HomePod mini” or less expensive version would likely see increased adoption. One of the reasons these devices are penetrating the market so quickly is that entry-level buy-in is less than $50.00.

Multiple device ownership

Apple is unlikely to try to compete at that pricing tier, but it could roll out a less expensive smart speaker — though there are no rumors to that effect right now. If it’s serious about competing in the market, it will need to have a lower-priced model.

CIRP data also show that a substantial number of users own more than one speaker, perhaps a third of buyers. By comparison, NPR survey data say that half of current owners have at least two devices.

The recent Nielsen total audience report, which focuses on media consumption across devices, asserts that 19 percent of adults currently own/use a smart speaker in their homes. That represents about 47 million device users in the US today. The report also argues, using survey findings, that there are more than 100 million current non-owners interested in buying one.