Opinion: The decline of the original HomePod is slow and sad

Cupertino, December 6, 2021

The original HomePod was launched by Apple in 2018 and was finally discontinued in March this year. Now she's dying a very slow and very sad death and I'm starting to wonder if we (or Apple?) Would have taken it for granted all the time. Listen to me about this.

Rocky from the beginning

Launching the HomePod was difficult from the start. It was announced at WWDC in 2017, with a price of $ 350 and a promise to "reinvent home music."

Apple said the smartphone could be purchased later that year, but that didn't really happen. Instead, Apple postponed the launch of the HomePod until early 2018, saying at the time that it simply needed "a little more time" to prepare the smart speaker for its big launch.

Apple finally released the HomePod to the public on January 26, available in space gray and white for $ 349. But the drama did not end here. Just over a year later, in April 2019, Apple did something very rare: it reduced the price of the HomePod by $ 50, giving it a new starting price of $ 299 in the United States and other countries. .

In April 2020, Apple ran a rare promotion exclusively for employees, offering the HomePod for $ 149 in what was seen as a fire sale at the time. Less than a year later, Apple announced that the HomePod was discontinued, saying in a statement that it was refocusing its efforts on the $ 99 HomePod mini.

A slow and painful death

But HomePod's death was not immediate. It lingered in the Apple Store and the Apple Online Store for several months, before finally being removed once the stock was exhausted. Now, users of the original HomePod live in a kind of emptiness, using a speaker that once sold for $ 349 and is powered by a processor that was first used in the iPhone 6 in 2014.

HomePod sound quality is still great today, but that A8 processor inside shows its age when it comes to things like Siri requests, HomeKit control, and multi-speaker AirPlay playback.

In addition, over the past few months, we've seen a growing number of reports about HomePods failing completely, with a so-called "popping" sound now infamous among users. If your HomePod starts making noises, chances are it's about to bite the dust.

And if (or when) the original HomePod dies, there is no clear replacement option. You may think that you can go to eBay and find a HomePod from a reseller at a reasonable price. Not. For a new (and sometimes even used) HomePod on eBay, look at a price tag in $ 500 internship.

Sonos offers some compelling smart speaker options, but they are different from the original HomePod and lack key features, such as the deep integration of the Apple TV. The HomePod mini is a great choice for Apple fans, but it just doesn't match the original HomePod in terms of sound quality.

The future of HomePod

homepod mini new colors

What does the future hold for HomePod? Bloomberg reported that Apple is working on additional HomePod form factors, including a TV connected to a built-in HomePod speaker and a FaceTime camera.

It seems that Apple is also considering a smart speaker with a touch screen, similar to competing products from Amazon. None of these products sound like a successor to the original HomePod and the sound quality that fills the camera.

Three years later, I'm starting to wonder if we would have taken the original HomePod for granted. It was a niche product, for sure, but now that there is no clear replacement on the market, it is clear that it has served a certain use case very well.

In an ideal world, there is a new HomePod on the road, which is similar to the original model, but priced at $ 249, a faster processor inside and better reliability. Whether it turns out or not, it remains to be seen.

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